3 players who will sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster by the skin of their teeth

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Justin Dunn
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Justin Dunn / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds will enter spring training with several players looking to establish themselves in the big leagues. After purging most of the veteran from their roster last season, Cincinnati will be entertaining a number of first and second-year players in Goodyear, Arizona this month.

The increase in competition will make for some interesting roster decisions once spring training gets underway. The Reds have already signed players like Chad Pinder and Daniel Duarte to minor league contracts, and both received invites to big league camp.

With so many players looking to land on the Opening Day roster and only 26 spots available, there will be a few players sweating it out until the bitter end. Which three players will sneak onto the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster by the skin of their teeth?

1. Ian Gibaut will sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster by the skin of his teeth.

One player who very few Reds fans have talked about this offseason is right-handed pitcher Ian Gibaut. The reliever was an 11th-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays, pitched in just one game for the Cleveland Guardians, and was claimed off waiver by the Reds from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gibaut has a nice mix of pitches, including a cutter, changeup, and slider. But Gibaut's bread and butter is his fastball that routinely sit in the mid-90s. Gibaut was striking out opposing batters at a 30% clip in 2022, however, he did post a walk-rate of 11.3% according to FanGraphs.

Gibaut is out of minor league options, which is a big reason why the Cincinnati Reds will likely keep the 29-year-old on the active roster heading into 2023. While other relievers may eventually displace Ian Gibaut, he showed enough last season to warrant a spot on the Opening Day roster.

2. Jose Barrero will sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster by the skin of his teeth.

If there's one player who needs to have a successful spring training, it's Jose Barrero. A top prospect in the Cincinnati Reds back in 2021, Barrero underwent wrist surgery last spring and his performance appeared to suffer because of it.

While many will argue that Barrero is not a major league-ready shortstop, he's done about everything asked of him in the minors and it's time for the 24-year-old to either sink or swim. After crushing opposing pitchers at both Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, Barrero looked like a shell of himself in both the minors and the major leagues last season.

Barrero was flailing his bat at anything that was remotely close to the plate last season. Barrero posted an unbelievable strikeout-rate of 43.7% while only drawing a walk in 5.2% of his plate appearances.

With so many young shortstops coming up through the Reds farm system and only one minor league option remaining, 2023 will be a make-or-break season for Jose Barrero.

The Cincinnati Reds have already brought in longtime Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman to compete with Barrero this spring. It's most likely that Cincinnati will give Barrero one last chance to make an impact on the big league roster, but he'll have top prospect Elly De La Cruz breathing down his neck.

3. Justin Dunn will sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster by the skin of his teeth.

The last two spots in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation will be up for grabs this spring. While Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft are all likely to get the ball every fifth day, several others will be competing for those last two spots.

Among them will be Justin Dunn. An injury kept the former Seattle Mariners pitcher out of action until August. Then, Dunn suffered another injury and only appeared in a handful of game. Over seven starts, Dunn earned a 6.10 ERA recorded just 21 strikeouts over 31 innings of work.

Dunn has a nice mix of pitches and would be a nice compliment at the backend of the Cincinnati rotation is he's fully recovered from the injuries that he incurred last season.

But, he won't have a clear path to spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Connor Overton, Luke Weaver, and Luis Cessa will all be competing alongside Dunn to be part of the Reds starting rotation next season. Brandon Williamson and Levi Stoudt will be in the mix as well.

In the end, the Reds could always use Justin Dunn as a reliever as well, so there's multiple ways that the former first-round pick could find his way on the Opening Day roster. Still, sneaks onto the Reds roster, it'll be by the skin of teeth.

Next. 3 Reds who don't deserve to be on the 40-man roster. dark