Way-too-early Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster predictions

Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds 2022 season did not go as planned. The Reds traded away some fan favorites and finished below .500 for the first time in two years.

But the organization was able to restock the farm system and the future looks bright for the ole Redlegs heading into next season. It may be 2024 before the club actually fields a competitive team, able to make a push for the postseason, but next year's squad should be better than what the Cincinnati faithful witnessed in 2022.

Injuries decimated the Reds in 2022 and that's something that the fanbase could certainly do without in 2023. Let's take a way-too-early look at what the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster might look like.

Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day starting lineup (9)

Joey Votto (1B), Jonathan India (2B), Kyle Farmer (3B), Matt McLain (SS), Stuart Fairchild (RF), TJ Friedl (CF), Jake Fraley (LF), Tyler Stephenson, (C), Spencer Steer (DH)

Right off the bat, there's no doubt that a good portion of Reds Country will have a problem with Matt McLain on the Opening Day roster. That's fair, as the former first-round pick has yet to play above Double-A.

But the Reds have a lot of depth at shortstop, so Jose Barrero will have his work cut out for him if he's looking to retain his spot in the starting lineup. Look for former first-round pick Matt McLain to push Barrero during spring training and win he job outright.

Reds fans shouldn't see too many surprises elsewhere. If healthy, both Joey Votto and Tyler Stephenson should return to their respective positions. Jonathan India isn't going anywhere despite his sub-par defensive numbers in 2022.

Where does Kyle Farmer fit on next year's team? For now, it's probably safe to assume that the veteran will see time all over the diamond, but Farmer played well at third base. Farmer will likely share time with Spencer Steer who'll need a good showing during spring training in order to secure more playing time.

Both TJ Friedl and Jake Fraley showed enough during the latter-part of the 2022 season to warrant consideration for a starting spot on Cincinnati's 2023 roster. But both may also be part of a platoon with a right-handed hitting outfielder.

Unless the Reds front office makes an upgrade to the outfield through a trade or free agency during the offseason Stuart Fairchild may be in the outfield on Opening Day. The right-handed hitting outfielder would be a fine platoon partner for either Friedl or Fraley next season, but the Reds need to address the outfield in someway during the offseason.

Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day starting rotation (5)

Hunter Greene (RHP), Nick Lodolo (LHP), Graham Ashcraft (RHP), Connor Overton (RHP), Luis Cessa (RHP)

Who will be the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starter next season? The smart money would suggest that it'll be a tossup between Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. The Reds rookies both had very impressive showing during the 2022 season and the pair look to be key piece of the rotation moving forward.

Graham Ashcraft may have something to say about being the Reds Opening Day starter as well. The right-hander surprised a lot of folks in 2022 and showed flashes of brilliance at times. He also had his struggles, but Ashcraft is the type of hurler who's going to pitch to contact and isn't afraid to after opposing batters. The 2023 season could be huge for Ashcraft going forward.

Mike Minor will not have his team-option picked up by the Cincinnati Reds and it seems somewhat unlikely that Chase Anderson will return as well. Still, there may be need for the Reds to sign a veteran starter or two during the offseason, but Cincinnati has some internal candidates as well.

While Connor Overton was technically a rookie last season, the right-hander is 29 years old. Luis Cessa pitched well as a starter last season as well and should be in the mix for a spot in the rotation.

Brandon Williamson will be added to the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster during the offseason, but looking at his numbers at Triple-A this past season would suggest that the left-hander has some areas of his game to work on. Williamson will be in the mix to join the starting rotation next season, but should begin the year at Triple-A.

Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day bench (4)

Nick Senzel (IF/OF), TJ Hopkins (OF), Alejo Lopez (IF) , Austin Romine (C)

Okay, this is where things begin to ge interesting when it comes to the Cincinnati Reds roster. The first thing you might notice is that Mike Moustakas' name is nowhere to be found. The Reds, expensive as it may be, should bid farewell to one of the worst free agent signings in the history of their organization. That move will cost the Reds $22M, but open up a roster spot.

Nick Senzel can no longer be counted on to be the Reds starting centerfielder. In fact, he should be moved off the outfield grass all together. Despite playing in a career-high 110 games in 2022, Senzel still finished the season on the IL. As a former first-round pick with minor league options and team control through the 2025 season, it's hard to see the Reds parting with Senzel this winter.

When it comes to a utility infielder, the Reds won't have many better choices than Alejo Lopez. Don't be shocked if Matt Reynolds makes a play to remain on next year's roster as well, but Lopez's bat and ability to hit from both sides of the plate cannot be ignored.

TJ Hopkins is a player that many fans throughout Reds Country have probably never heard of. That said, the former ninth-round draft pick will likely be added to the 40-man roster this offseason and could find his way onto the Opening Day roster as a reserve.

Finally, the Cincinnati Reds need to find a savvy, experienced catcher to backup Tyler Stephenson in 2023. Tucker Barnhart will be a free agent, and after a down-year with the Detroit Tigers, the Reds may be able to ink the veteran backstop to a one or two-year deal. For now, let's assume they stick with Austin Romine.

Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day bullpen (8)

Alexis Diaz (RHP), Lucas Sims (RHP), Tony Santillan (RHP), Reiver Sanmartin (LHP), Tejay Antone (RHP), Jeff Hoffman (RHP), Ian Gibaut (RHP), Buck Farmer (RHP)

The Cincinnati Reds bullpen has a chance to be much better in 2023 simply because the relief corps endured so many injuries last season. The one thing Cincinnati fans can count on, however, is that Alexis Diaz will be the team's closer. Perhaps he'll adopt a new entrance music similar to his brother Edwin.

Looking a those pitchers who ended the season on the 60-day IL, the Reds will be tickled to have Tejay Antone, Tony Santillan, Lucas Sims, and Jeff Hoffman all back in fold for the 2023 season. Three of the four are up for arbitration during the offseason, but Antone, Sims, and Hoffman are all likely to be tendered contracts.

When it comes to left-handed relief, the Reds lost Justin Wilson early this past season, and never really found a suitable replacement. Reiver Sanmartin performed well after being removed from the starting rotation, and the fanbase should assume that the lefty will be back in 2023.

Rounding out the bullpen could be a pair of right-handers in Ian Gibaut and Buck Farmer. Gibaut came over from the Cleveland Guardians mid-season, and had his moments as a solid middle reliever for the Reds in 2022. Farmer, after a trip back to Triple-A, performed very well down the stretch for the Redlegs.

Cincinnati Reds General Manager Nick Krall didn't paint a rosy picture in terms of what next year's roster is going to look like. In fact, it'll probably be a lot of the same heading into Goodyear next season. Free agency will certainly being a few new faces to the franchise next season, but we'll have to wait and see how that develops in the coming weeks.

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