The Cincinnati Reds made some serious off-season moves to allow them a good shot at a division crown or at least a playoff berth.
Spring training is under way and there are many players in Goodyear, Arizona all competing for a spot on the 25-man roster that will be headed to Cincinnati for the start of the season.
Some on the list will be obvious, while others are on the bubble and will continue to float along or burst.
Let me start this list by giving you the obvious choices which should be expected by almost all Reds fans: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, Ryan Ludwick, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Heisey, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall.
That list is comprised of 16 players meaning there are nine bubbles which will float on to Cincinnati while the others will go to Louisville, one of the other minor league squads, or sent walking.
Starting off the list for the remaining 11 we have Zack Cozart. The 26-year-old shortstop was drafted in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Reds. Cozart has paid his dues, doing four-plus years in the farm system prior to being called up for 11 games last year before his season was ended by injury. He made an immediate impact for the Reds and the shortstop position is his to lose.
Wilson Valdez was acquired between seasons in a deal which sent pitcher Jeremy Horst to the Philadelphia Phillies. Valdez, 33, has played six years in MLB and is now on team number seven. He is very versatile and has played everywhere except first base and hasn’t caught a game. He even pitched one inning last year for the Phillies. His versatility cannot be overlooked along with his experience. His acquisition will most likely send Paul Janish to begin the season at Louisville.
Miguel Cairo, 37, is starting his third season in a Reds uniform. He is a favorite of manager Dusty Baker and with his versatility and ability to play most positions will keep him on the roster. In his time at Cincinnati he has put together a line of .276/.340/.411/.751 with 12 HR.
Power-hitting Juan Francisco, 24 has been in the Reds organization since signing as a free agent in 2004. He has been playing professionally for six years and has been considered the heir-apparent at third base when Scott Rolen hangs up his glove. Some may wonder why he should be considered over Todd Frazier. I can offer two very good reasons. The first is that he is out of options and Frazier is not. The second is that Francisco bats left-handed and will most likely be the only lefty off the bench for pinch hitting. In 81 games over three seasons, Francisco has produced this line: .284/.331/.450/.781 while hitting five homers, including one that went over 500 feet.
Logan Ondrusek, 27, was drafted by the Reds in the 13th round in 2005. The tall reliever pitched five seasons in the minors before being called up to stay in 2010. His strikeout ratio is 6.0/9 and his k/bb ia 1.67. His WHIP is 1.267, has an ERA+ of 116 and a GB rate of 48.4.
Southpaw Bill Bray, 28, came to the Reds in the 2006 deal that saw the Reds send Austin Kearns to the Washington Nationals. He has been pitching for the Reds for five years and missed almost the entire 2009 season due to injury. He has been a very solid performer and in his five years he is averaging a strikeout an inning and his K/BB ratio is 2.54. His WHIP is 1.328, has a GB rate of 48.4 and an ERA+ of 118.
Nick Masset, 29, came to Cincinnati in 2008 in the deal that saw Ken Griffey, Jr. move to the Chicago White Sox. In his four years with the Reds he has become their most trusted setup man. He has a K/9 rate of 8.5 and his K/BB is 2.45. His GB ratio is 49.8, his WHIP is 1.261 and is ERA+ is an excellent 134.
Jose Arredondo, 27, was signed in 2010 as a free agent. In his only year with the Reds, the Dominican had a K/9 rate of 8.2 and an ERA+ of 122. His GB rate is 46.2
Sam LeCure, 27 was a fourth-round draft pick of the Reds in 2005. In his two years with the Reds parent team he has a strikeout rate of 7.9/9 and a K/BB of 2.39. He only has a GB rate of 45.7. He is expected to be a long-reliever and possible spot starter.
That concludes the 25-man roster. You will notice you didn’t see Aroldis Chapman’s name on it. That is because in all likelihood he will not beat out Bailey for a spot in the rotation and Bailey is out of options, where Chapman is not. If the Reds decide to continue with the plan of making him a starter look for Chapman to start the season at Triple-A Louisville. If they fold on the idea and keep him as a reliever, plan on sending LeCure to Louisville if he has options remaining.