Why Stuart Fairchild maintains edge over Bubba Thompson in race for Reds' roster spot

The Reds have two talented players duking it out for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Stuart Fairchild (17) bats.
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Stuart Fairchild (17) bats. / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The majority of spots on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster are already spoken for. Players like Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India, and Jeimer Candelario are locks to be on David Bell's lineup card when the Washington Nationals visit Great American Ball Park on March 28th.

But the Reds' bench isn't as clear cut. Cincinnati brought in several veterans on minor-league deals, including Josh Harrison, Mike Ford, and Tony Kemp. There are also some young players like Jacob Hurtubise and Blake Dunn looking to crash the party and sneak onto the Reds Opening Day roster.

But the battle for the final spot on the Reds' bench may come down to a pair of outfielders who've already logged innings in the major leagues. Stuart Fairchild and Bubba Thompson both played well in Sunday's Cactus League games against the Los Angeles Angels, but it's unlikely that both players will break camp with the Reds ahead of Opening Day.

Why Stuart Fairchild maintains edge over Bubba Thompson in race for Reds' roster spot

Stuart Fairchild drew the start in right field on Sunday and went 3-for-3 with an RBI double and two runs scored. Fairchild also swiped two bags. Bubba Thompson was also 3-for-3 while acting as the Reds designated hitter on Sunday afternoon. Thompson recorded two RBI, but was thrown out trying to steal second base in the second inning.

Both Fairchild and Thompson will be given a long look this spring. The Reds are looking to add one more outfielder to the quartet of TJ Friedl, Spencer Steer, Will Benson, and Jake Fraley. The Reds would likely prefer an outfielder to fill the role that Nick Senzel held during the 2023 season.

While neither Fairchild nor Thompson have produced the type of splits that Senzel did last season, having a right-handed hitting outfielder that can also give Friedl a break in center field is the type of player that Bell will be looking for to fill out the active roster.

Fairchild holds a slight edge over Thompson. The former second-round pick has more pop in his bat, and while Fairchild isn't the burner that Thompson is, he still has enough speed to be dangerous on the base paths.

But it's the lack of minor-league options that will give Fairchild the upper hand in this roster battle. While Thompson still has minor-league options remaining, Fairchild does not. That alone is enough to give Fairchild the edge over Thompson. If Fairchild fails to make the Reds Opening Day roster, he'll be exposed to waivers, while Thompson can be optioned to the minors and stay with the organization.

There's still plenty of spring games remaining, and a number of other players could put their best foot forward and make a play for a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster. But, with all things being equal, if it comes down to Fairchild and Thompson, the decision is rather straightforward.