Projecting the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster 3.0

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
3 of 4

We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2023 baseball season. The World Baseball Classic is coming to a close and final roster cuts are on the horizon. So what might the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster look like?

For weeks now, several positions have been set in stone. However, there've been a handful of positions that have yielded some tight competition throughout the spring.

Gone is the likelihood of Christian Encarnacion-Strand opening the season with the Reds, or Elly De La Cruz hitting atop David Bell's lineup card on March 30th agains the Pittsburgh Pirates. But there are reasons for optimism heading in Reds Opening Day. So who are the 26 players that will break camp and head for Cincinnati next week?

Projecting the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster: Starting rotation (5)

Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Chase Anderson, Brandon Williamson

While every Reds fan knows that Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft have been penciled in atop the Cincinnati rotation since the end of last season, little if anything has been certain when it comes to the final two spots.

Maybe this is wishful thinking, or simply seeing the results put forth this spring, but Brandon Williamson has done more than enough to lock up a spot in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation heading into Opening Day.

In his last outing, the left-hander went four innings, allowed just two hits and struck out a pair while surrendering just one run. Throughout the spring, Williamson has logged 11 innings in five games and has 11 punch outs. There's really no reason to delay his major league debut any longer.

As for the fifth starter, this one becomes a tossup between Chase Anderson and Connor Overton. The veteran may have the advantage in this instance after Overton struggled mightily throughout the majority of camp.

Projecting the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster: Starting lineup (9)

Joey Votto, Jonathan India, Jose Barrero, Spencer Steer, Wil Myers, Jake Fraley, Will Benson, Tyler Stephenson, TJ Friedl

This feels like David Bell's starting lineup for the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The one name that really stands out is Joey Votto. It looked like forgone conclusion that the six-time All-Star would begin the season on the IL, but over the last week, Votto has played in Cactus League games and should be on the field at first base.

Jonathan India will be hitting atop the Reds batting order, and fellow third-year starter Tyler Stephenson will be splitting time at catcher, first base, and DH this season. When he's not in right field, look for Wil Myers to be Cincinnati's designated hitter.

Jake Fraley will be in the Reds lineup anytime a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. With Nick Senzel not yet ready to start his 2023 campaign, Will Benson will be the team's starting centerfielder. TJ Friedl will get plenty of at-bats this season as well after finishing off a very nice rookie campaign in 2022.

Jose Barrero has done enough to the Reds Opening Day shortstop, but he'll have to hit to stay up with the big club. Finally, Spencer Steer's defense has me second guessing his inclusion on the roster, but the former Minnesota Twins farmhand provides too much at the plate to relegate him to the minor leagues at the start of the season.

Projecting the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster: Bench (4)

Luke Maile, Chad Pinder, Curt Casali, Kevin Newman

Three catchers has been the plan from the jump. After seeing so many backstops run through the clubhouse in 2022, Nick Krall wanted to have a backup plan heading into the 2023 season. Curt Casali will probably see the majority of starts when Tyler Stephenson is playing elsewhere, but Luke Maile should get at least one start per week behind the plate.

It seems as though Kevin Newman is playing the same type of role that Casali and Maile are - insurance. Newman was brought in to pick up the pieces int eh event that Jose Barrero falls flat on his face.

A former top prospect in the Reds organization, Barrero did not swing the bat well at all in 2022. Should Barrero falter again, Newman can keep the seat warm for one of either Elly De La Cruz or Matt McLain.

The final roster spot will come down to Chad Pinder versus Stuart Fairchild. With all things being equal, Fairchild has outplayed Pinder this spring and deserves the roster nod over the veteran. But that won't be the case.

Look for Pinder, due mainly to his defensive versatility, to secure the final spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Had Nick Senzel been ready to go, this likely would have been his spot. But with the former first-round currently out of commission and three catchers on the roster, David Bell will need someone who can play on the infield dirt and outfield grass.

Projecting the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster: Bullpen (8)

Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, Reiver Sanmartin, Buck Farmer, Hunter Strickland, Ian Gibaut, Luis Cessa, Alex Young

Someway, somehow, Hunter Strickland will find his way onto the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. Strickland seems to have nine lives and I'd honestly be more surprised if he was part of the last round of roster cuts than if he actually made the roster.

Alexis Diaz has emerged from the World Baseball Classic unscathed. The same cannot be said for his brother, Edwin. The New York Mets closer suffered what's likely to be a season-ending injury during Puerto Rico's post-win celebration over Columbia in the WBC.

Lucas Sims has had a rough spring, but after undergoing back surgery last year, fans should expect to see a little rust from the right-hander. Buck Farmer will be part of the Reds bullpen to begin the season. The former Detroit Tigers reliever was lights-out over the second-half of the 2022 season.

Reiver Sanmartin will be likely be joined by another left-hander in the bullpen. Alex Young has pitched well enough to earn that spot this spring, but will need to be added to the 40-man roster.

Ian Gibaut is out of minor-league options, so expect the Reds to place him on the Opening Day roster as well. Finally, Luis Cessa's absence from spring training will likely cost him a spot in the Reds starting rotation. Look for Cessa to begin the season in the Cincinnati bullpen.

The biggest omissions are Connor Overton and Fernando Cruz. While both could be on the Reds Opening Day roster, look for the two pitchers to instead be optioned to Triple-A to begin the season.

I'm not suggesting this is what should happen, but with Hunter Strickland and Chase Anderson taking up two roster spots, the Reds will have to send two pitchers down to the minors.

Next. 3 Reds who should be cut, but won't be. dark