3 Reds position battles that will come down to the wire this spring

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Stuart Fairchild
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Stuart Fairchild / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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It's fair to say that a good majority of spots on the Cincinnati Reds are, for all intents and purposes, spoken for.

No one is unseating Jonathan India at second base, the Reds have already committed to carrying three catchers into the regular season, and the trio of second-year hurlers will comprise 60-percent of the Cincinnati starting rotation.

But there are a few spots on the Opening Day roster that have yet to be secured. Let's look at three position battles that could come down to the the wire with about two weeks remaining in Reds spring training.

1. Reds spring training position battle: Left-handed reliever

It's a virtual certainty that Reiver Sanmartin will be part of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen heading into Opening Day. After failing to nail down a spot in the Reds starting rotation last season, Sanmartin became a fixture in the Cincinnati bullpen over the second-half of the 2022 season.

But the southpaw will need a running mate in 2023. Cincinnati has made adding another left-handed reliever a priority and has three candidates vying for, what's likley to be, just one position.

Bennett Sousa, who was released by the Chicago White Sox earlier this spring is currently on the team's 40-man roster. But non-roster invitees Daniel Norris and Alex Young will be looking to replace Sousa prior the Reds March 30th tilt against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The most accomplished player between the three is arguably Young. The lefty has success with the San Francisco Giants last season and has looked very good this spring. Young hasn't allowed a run this spring and has seven punch outs in four games.

Sousa owns a 0.00 ERA in his three outings with four strikeouts in three games. Norris has been less impressive this spring and is probably on the outside looking in. The battle to be the Reds left-handed reliever will come down the wire.

2. Reds spring training position battle: Fifth outfielder

If Joey Votto and Nick Senzel begin the 2023 season on the Injured List, the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster will look very odd. Under this scenario, one can assume that Cincinnati will platoon Tyler Stephenson and Wil Meyers at first base and Chad Pinder will be added to the 26-man roster.

With three catchers and the left-handed hitting trio of Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Will Benson all be assured of a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster, there's bound to be battle for the final outfield spot.

Stuart Fairchild and Nick Solak have been the two players competing for this final spot throughout Reds spring training. Michael Siani is in the mix as well, but the former fourth-round draft pick is probably ticketed for Triple-A Louisville.

The good thing in this scenario is that both players have minor league options remaining. So, if the Reds are able to add Pinder by placing Justin Dunn or Tejay Antone on the 60-day IL, neither Fairchild or Solak will have to be designated for assignment.

Solak has the advantage of being able to play on the infield dirt, but Fairchild is much more athletic and can play all three outfield spots while Solak is much better suited to play left field exclusively.

Of course, if the Cincinnati Reds decide to select of the contract of Christian Encarnacion-Strand, then both players could be headed to the minor leagues to start their 2023 season.

3. Reds spring training position battle: Fifth starter

This has been the position battle to watch throughout Reds spring training. Let's go ahead hand Luis Cessa one of the five spots in the Cincinnati rotation. The right-hander started several games over the final month-plus of last season and has looked sharp this spring. Cessa is currently playing for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

So, with Cessa, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft all slated to begin the 2023 season in the rotation, that leaves one position left to fill. There are no shortage of candidates looking to secure that final spot.

Luke Weaver has been rather unimpressive this spring. While he was the odds-on favorite to lockdown the fifth starter spot prior to Reds spring training, he's not done enough to hang on to it thus far.

Brandon Williamson has looked very good this spring. He's had his fair share of hiccups, but the lanky lefty from Minnesota looks the part. Williamson will be in contention for a spot on Opening Day roster until the final week of Reds spring training.

Levi Stoudt had pitched very well until his last outing and is probably out of contention for the final spot in the rotation. But Chase Anderson looked very good in his first start and will be seeking a return to the Reds 40-man roster.

Finally, there's Connor Overton. The right-hander has looked awful this spring and may not even break camp with the Redlegs. Look for Overton's slow start to see him begin the 2023 season back in Triple-A Louisville.

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