Don't be so quick to assign a role for rehabbing Reds pitcher Justin Dunn

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Justin Dunn.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Justin Dunn. / Sam Wasson/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds front office, to the disappointment of most fans, traded Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker to the Seattle Mariners prior to the start of the season.

That trade was the the equivalent of the Reds waving the white flag on the entirety of the 2022 season. Oh sure, Cincinnati signed Tommy Pham to replace Winker in left field and Brandon Drury has played very well, but both are stopgap options who'll likely be playing for another team after August 2nd.

In exchange for Suárez and Winker, the Reds received outfielder Jake Fraley, two pitching prospects, and former first-round pick Justin Dunn. The right-hander was a reliever for Boston College throughout most of his collegiate career, but eventually was moved into the Eagles starting rotation.

Reds RHP Justin Dunn has tremendous versatility.

The Cincinnati Reds have plans to utilize Justin Dunn as a starter this season. Dunn is currently on the 60-day IL but pitched well in his second rehab start on Friday. The right-hander went three innings and didn't allow a hit while striking out four batters.

But we've seen this movie before. Sal Romano, Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, and Amir Garrett were all brought along as starting pitchers only to eventually wind up in the Reds bullpen. The same thing has happened to Tony Santillan, Reiver Sanmartin, and even Jeff Hoffman.

The Reds are focused on building their starting rotation from within. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and even Graham Ashcraft look to be building blocks for the Reds rotation moving forward. Connor Phillips and Brandon Williamson, both of whom were acquired from the Seattle Mariners earlier this spring, have the look of future rotation pieces as well.

So where does that leave Justin Dunn? His immediate future appears to be in the rotation, but with the Reds ready to deploy a six-man rotation next week, the right-hander may have to wait until some potential trades thin the ranks. Both Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle could be move in the coming weeks.

Could Dunn act a swingman; giving the Reds multiple innings in relief? Will the Reds simply leave the 26-year-old in the minors until a spot becomes available in the rotation? Dunn does have minor league options remaining.

Your guess is as good as mine, but I think it's premature to assign a role to Justin Dunn at the moment. Building him up as a starter is certainly the correct approach, but where he ultimately ends up will depend a lot on the upcoming trade deadline and how Cincinnati's recently promoted prospects perform.

Predicting the Reds starting lineup after the trade deadline. dark. Next