Why Lyon Richardson could replace Art Warren on the Reds 40-man roster

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Lyon Richardson.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Lyon Richardson. / USA TODAY NETWORK

This winter is going to be very interesting for a group of talented Cincinnati Reds prospects. When it comes to roster construction, one important element is protecting young players from the Rule 5 Draft.

This can be an inexact science, and Reds fans needn't look too far into the past in order to see a prime example. Last winter, Cincinnati added James Marninan to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Fast-forward to the present, and you'll see that Marinan is no longer on the Reds 40-man roster. In fact, the right-hander was designated for assignment back in June. So why did Cincinnati even add the former fourth-round draft selection to the roster? Because the front office was fearful of another team taking a flier on a talented, young pitcher.

Why the Reds should add Lyon Richardson to the 40-man roster.

The Cincinnati Reds are going to be faced with several difficult decisions in the coming weeks, one of which will be whether or not to add former second-round pick Lyon Richardson to the 40-man roster. Just like James Marinan, and Jared Solomon before him, there are reasons for doing so.

Richardson did not pitch in 2022 after undergoing Tommy John surgery the year before. Much like Reds reliever Tejay Antone, Richardson is expected to be back on the mound heading into the 2023 season.

While there is always concern with a young pitcher like Richardson coming back from injury, his 10.78 K/9 and 26.3% strikeout-rate in 19 games with High-A during the 2021 season gives the Reds' brass something to dream on. But is Richardson's potential worth using a 40-man roster spot?

Last year, Cincinnati used one of those coveted spots to protect outfielder Allan Cerda from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft knowing full well that the 22-year-old was unlikely to debut in 2022. That would be the same approach the Reds would be taking this year if Richardson's contract is selected. It's unlikely that the 22-year-old would make his way to the majors in 2023.

Cincinnati Reds reliever Art Warren is going to miss all of next year with an elbow injury. The team could designate the right-hander for assignment and allow Richardson to occupy his 40-man roster spot.

No matter which way you slice, that spot will be used for a player who will not be taking the field in 2023. The only difference is that once the season begins, Warren can be assigned to the 60-day IL and his spot on the 40-man roster can be used for another player.

The Cincinnati front office will have to make similar decisions with a few other prospects. Is it worth loading up the 40-man roster with potential major leaguers knowing that they won't play a lick in 2023? It all depends on how highly the Reds view some of those talented prospects.

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