Reds’ 26-man roster sits at 25, how will they fill their last spot?

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day roster is almost set, but instead of needing to whittle down to one last player who won’t make the team, the team needs to add another to get to 26 players.

After first baseman Mike Ford, right-hander Tony Santillan and catcher Michael Trautwein were reassigned to minor-league camp Friday morning, 32 players remain in camp with seven scheduled to start the season on the injured list. Simple math leaves 25 players for 26 spots.

“It doesn’t have to be one profile,” Bell said. “I think it will probably be an outfielder now that we’ve acquired (Santiago) Espinal, but it doesn’t have to be if someone becomes available.”

Outfielders Bubba Thompson and Jacob Hurtubise will travel with the team Sunday to play in the intrasquad scrimmages scheduled before Thursday’s Opening Day matchup with the Washington Nationals.

As teams cut players around baseball, the Reds could look to add from outside of the organization to fill out the roster. Of the 25 players who have been told they’re making the team, all are on the 40-man roster, so no roster moves are required to make room.

Here is where the roster stands, starting with the position that has — unfortunately for the Reds — grown the most in the past week, the IL.

Injured list (7): OF TJ Friedl, RHP Ian Gibaut, LHP Nick Lodolo, IF Matt McLain, LHP Sam Moll, LHP Brandon Williamson, LHP Alex Young

Of those starting the season on the IL, none are a lock to go on the 60-day version. McLain is scheduled to get a second opinion on his shoulder Monday in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Lodolo is on track to be activated for a start on April 10.

Catchers (2): Tyler Stephenson, Luke Maile

This hasn’t changed since October when Maile re-signed with the team. That said, nobody may have had a better spring than Michael Trautwein, who will also head to Cincinnati for the team’s scrimmages before going to Louisville to start the season. The 24-year-old catcher out of Northwestern has played a lot this spring and has impressed the team at the plate, but his ability behind it is what has had people in camp talking about him.

Infielders (5): Jeimer Candelario, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Santiago Espinal, Jonathan India

What’s undetermined with this group is how much Espinal, an All-Star in 2022, will play. Espinal can play second base, shortstop and third base and will be De La Cruz’s backup at short.

For the most part, the Reds will line up with Encarnacion-Strand at first, India at second, Candelario at third and De La Cruz at short.

Outfielders (5): Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild, Jake Fraley, Nick Martini, Spencer Steer

Steer can also play the infield, of course, but between Steer in left and India at second versus the inverse, it seems wise to keep the status quo considering India’s inexperience in the outfield.

Fairchild and Benson are currently the team’s options in center and both will play plenty there.

Starting pitchers (5): Frankie Montas, Hunter Greene, Nick Martinez, Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft

That order — Montas, Greene, Martinez, Abbott, Ashcraft — is how the team will line up their pitchers in their first five games of the season. That rotation won’t last long as Lodolo is scheduled to return early in the season. Greene, Abbott and Ashcraft have options and Martinez has experience out of the bullpen.

Bullpen (8): Alexis Díaz, Tejay Antone, Fernando Cruz, Buck Farmer, Emilio Pagán, Lucas Sims, Brent Suter, Justin Wilson

Nobody had a better camp than Santillan, who allowed just one hit and struck out 10 batters in five scoreless innings. However, he didn’t make the team and will start the season in Louisville.

“He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing, continue to show he’s healthy,” Bell said. “He’s been through a lot. He’s going to Triple A for us and if he continues doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be with us all the way through the end of the year. That’s more important than Day One.”

Santillan is no longer on the 40-man roster and is out of options. If the Reds wanted to place him on the Opening Day roster, they would’ve needed to clear a roster spot.

Even with Moll and Young starting on the IL, the Reds still have a pair of lefties in Suter and Wilson. Antone, Cruz and Díaz are the only pitchers in the bullpen with options.

Undecided (1)

There are several ways this could go for the Reds, with the most simple being either Thomspon or Hurtubise being the pick for the final roster spot. Both are on the 40-man already, so the Reds wouldn’t need to create a roster spot.

Just as the Reds cut Ford, who hit .455 in Cactus League play, other teams will be making tough cuts, opening up other opportunities. With the trade for Espinal, the Reds don’t have a specific need like they did before the acquisition when there was no backup shortstop.

Outfield still seems like the biggest need, especially someone who can play center with Friedl unavailable. The current belief is that Friedl will be able to return from his broken wrist ahead of the two months he’d have to miss if he were on the 60-day, so that center field spot is more of a stopgap. Thompson could help in that regard, while Hurtubise has mostly played in the corners. Blake Dunn is likely behind those two and is a true center fielder.

(Photo of Bubba Thompson: Kareem Elgazzar / The Enquirer / USA Today Network)

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