Stuart Fairchild strengthens stranglehold on Reds Opening Day roster spot

The Reds outfielder is not going down without a fight.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Stuart Fairchild (17)
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Stuart Fairchild (17) / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe that right-handed hitting outfielder that Reds fans had been clamoring for all winter was on the roster the entire time. Stuart Fairchild has come out of the gates like a man who has no intention of giving up his roster spot this spring.

Fairchild is 4-for-6 already this spring with a home run and three RBI. The 27-year-old outfielder also has two stolen bases and three runs scored.

Fairchild has his work cut out for him this spring. Not only is he out of minor-league options, but the Cincinnati Reds have brought in several veterans on minor-league deals who are looking to unseat the former second-round pick. So far, however, Fairchild has been up to the challenge.

Stuart Fairchild strengthens stranglehold on Reds Opening Day roster spot

Stuart Fairchild was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, but was packaged along with Josh VanMeter during the 2020 season and shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks. After bouncing around with a few different franchises, Fairchild found his way back to Cincinnati in 2022 and has been part of the 40-man roster ever since.

But with so much young talent on the roster, Fairchild's spot hangs in the balance this spring with players like Josh Harrison, Mike Ford, and Tony Kemp looking to secure a spot on the active roster. Nick Martini, Bubba Thompson, and Jose Barrero are also attempting to push Fairchild off the roster in order to find their way onto a flight to Cincinnati ahead of Opening Day.

But Fairchild is having none of it. Last season, in just over 200 at-bats, Fairchild hit .228/.321/.388 with five round-trippers, 28 runs batted in, and 10 stolen bases. Defensively, Fairchild was worth 3 outs above average and, according to Baseball Savant, his sprint speed is among the 92nd percentile. Fairchild is not just some scrub who's occupying a 40-man roster spot.

Of all the aforementioned players, only two (Thompson and Barrero) can play center field. But neither has had the success at the plate that Fairchild has in the big leagues. Barrero makes Javier Baez look like a patient hitter, and Thompson has a .591 OPS for his career.

Stuart Fairchild isn't just going to be handed a spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day; he's giong to have to earn it. But his performance during the Cactus League, to this point, has done nothing but strengthen his strangelhold on that Opening Day roster spot.