Reds Opening Day roster bubble projections: Last 4 in, First 4 out

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Brandon Williamson.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Brandon Williamson. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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With March Madness in full-swing and bubble teams making some noise this time of year, maybe it's time to approach the Cincinnati Reds roster in a similar fashion to what Joey Brackets does with the NCAA Tournament.

Every spring when the college basketball season is nearing its end, Joe Lunardi of ESPN and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports put together what's known as Bracketology - projecting how they foresee the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will seed the 68 teams set to appear in March Madness.

One aspect of Bracketology is always the Last 4 in and the First 4 out. It allows fans to see just how close their favorite college basketball team came to making the field of 68 or just close they came to missing out on the Big Dance.

Reds Opening Day roster bubble projections: Last 4 in, First 4 out

This is part of the process every year. Reds fans have already seen the coaching staff and front office make some questoinable decisions with regard to some of the team's younger talent. Players like Levi Stoudt, Elly De La Cruz, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand were all reassigned to minor league camp despite proving that they were on the cusp of being major league-ready.

Other players have also been eliminated from the process. Recently, the Reds released left-handed reliever Daniel Norris and catcher Austin Romine - both of whom signed minor-league deals with invites to spring training.

After reassigning Alejo Lopez and Stuart Fairchild to minor-league camp earlier this week, only 40 players are left in Goodyear who have a shot to be part of the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. So which four players will be the heading north with the Reds next week and who will be the last four left off of Cincinnati's Opening Day roster?

Reds Opening Day roster bubble projections: Last 4 in

Chad Pinder (IF/OF): After optioning Stuart Fairchild to Triple-A, the Cincinnati Reds are short on right-handed outfield bats. Absent adding Chad Pinder to the 40-man roster, WIl Myers is the only right-handed option David Bell has.

Pinder has been penciled in as the Reds top utility player throughout the spring. With the Reds carrying three catchers into the regular season, Pinder's ability to play all over the diamond will be invaluable during the early-going.

Connor Overton (RHP): While the top three pitchers in the Cincinnati rotation are set in stone, the backend is far more murky. Luke Weaver's latest bout with a forearm injury and Luis Cessa's return from the World Baseball Classic only cloud this situation even more.

Connor Overton struggled to begin Cactus League play, but has looked better of late. Before bringing Brandon Williamson up to the bigs, perhaps the Reds should really evaluate what they have in Overton.

Derek Law (RHP): Hunter Strickland's name keeps coming up, and with good reason. David Bell continues to speak highly of him. After struggling mightily in 2022, it was curious that the Reds would even give the right-hander another chance.

But with so many injuries befalling the Cincinnati bullpen this spring, the Reds are likely to pluck a pitcher from the group of non-roster invitees brought to Goodyear. Maybe instead of Strickland, the Reds will do the right thing and add a pitcher who's actually excelled this spring.

Alex Young (LHP): The Reds have been searching all spring for left-handed running mate to pair with Reiver Sanmartin. Alex Young has had the best performance of almost any reliever during Cactus League play, let alone a lefty.

With Daniel Norris having been released earlier this week, it would now appear as though it's a two-horse race between Young and Bennett Sousa. Young has a 2.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts in eight innings pitched.

Reds Opening Day roster bubble projections: First 4 out

Matt Reynolds (IF): If Matt Reynolds is healthy, there's every reason to believe that he could have a spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. The problem is that Reynolds has only played in three games so far this spring due to a quad injury.

The good news, however, is that he's batting 1.000. Still, with only a little over a week until Opening Day, it seems like a long-shot that the veteran infielder will be part of the 26-man roster. Look for Reynolds to begin the year on the minor-league IL.

Brandon Williamson (LHP): This is a tough one, and I'm still not ruling out the possibility of Brandon Williamson actually making the Reds Opening Day roster. But with Luis Cessa returning from the WBC earlier than expected, he may have enough time to get stretched out and snag that final spot in the starting rotation.

If Williamson does not make the cut, he'll go straight to Louisville to begin his 2023 campaign and likely be the first name called if and when the Reds need a spot starter. Both Williamson and Levi Stoudy will make it to The Show in 2023.

Bennett Sousa (LHP): The Cincinnati Reds acquired Bennett Sousa after he was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox earlier this spring. Cincy has been in search for another left-hander to add to their bullpen all spring.

Sousa has minor-league options remaining, but if the Reds decide to roll with Alex Young as their additional lefty instead, the former 10th-round draft pick could lose his 40-man roster spot to the pitcher who actually replaces him.

Henry Ramos (OF): Had Henry Ramos not participated in the World Baseball Classic, we may be talking about him as a dark horse candidate to sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster. But playing in the WBC as part of Team Puerto Rico eliminated the opportunity for Ramos to get extended playing time in front of the Cincinnati coaching staff.

Ramos has minor-league options remaining, but being a non-roster invitee, the Reds would have to add him to the 40-man roster before optioning the switch-hitting outfielder to Triple-A. So far this spring, Ramos has posted a 1.517 OPS. Do the Reds option Will Benson to Triple-A in order to add Ramos to the roster? That seems unlikely.

Next. 2 Reds who've been hurt by the WBC, 1 who's been helped. dark