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Opening Day roster coming into focus

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In or out? We'll know in 67 days, maybe even several hours earlier.
In or out? We'll know in 67 days, maybe even several hours earlier.

"I think I'm done,"-- Walt Jocketty, to Mark Sheldon.

With Renteria and Lewis signed to guaranteed contracts, the 2011 Opening Day 25-man roster stew now seems very unlikely to contain any additives from outside the organization. As John Fay observes, the list is nearly complete on the position player side of the equation. The infield is set: Votto, BP, Renteria, Janish, Rolen and Cairo. Four of the OF spots are locked down: Bruce, Stubbs, Gomes, Lewis; with Heisey and Hermida the likeliest candidates to take the fifth spot. 

If Aroldis Chapman is truly tagged to be the most fearsome set-up man in the history of the game, there's one less question mark for the pitching staff. All that likely remains is some shuffling around the margins.

Barring video game-induced offseason injuries, here are the three major battles for rosterhood coming this Spring (PT battles between those assured roster spots have not been considered):

Wood vs. Leake

I don't see any reason to think that Homer Bailey, without options, would be consigned to the bullpen or traded before Opening Day. Meanwhile, everything from the front office suggests that Chapman is going to be relieving. With some token entrees from Matt Maloney, Sam LeCure and a minor-league spring invite or two, it will likely be a two-headed race and rematch pitting last season's two spring finalists for the fifth spot.  

Advantage: Travis Wood. At first glance, this looks like a toss-up. Wood's entering his age 24 season, Leake his age 23. Both were major league rookies last year and threw solid half-seasons (using a selective endpoint for Leake). Of course, this obscures Wood's advantage in peripheral stats and rough equivalent of 5 and a half seasons spent honing his crafts in professional baseball. Mike Leake has yet to visit the minor leagues, thereby keeping his options intact.

Heisey vs. Hermida vs. The Field

Heisey played the role of 4th/5th/6th outfielder for a good portion of last season, setting a Reds rookie pinch-hit HR record in the process (4). Though he staggered out of the gate in Louisville and faded down the stretch at the MLB-level,  his ability to back-up in CF, provide plus defense and his potential improvement in hitting righties certainly bolster his case. Hermida's main advantage over Heisey: past MLB success over a full season and favorable platoon splits against right handed pitching, with a .267/.342/.432 career line.

And if someone's going to inherit the Miguel Cairo-Darnell McDonald Chair for Surprise Opening Day Roster Spot, it's likely to be here. Not sure if there will be any late minor league contracts dealt out in the next month in a half, but Laynce Nix remains unsigned at press time. Todd Frazier and Dave Sappelt were intriguing dark horse possibilities prior to the Fred Lewis signing.

Advantage: Chris Heisey. Though not by much. Heisey is defensively superior and gives Baker the true second CF he likes to have on hand.  While Heisey has options, Hermida is a  non-roster invite to spring training and there's currently no place for him on the 40-man roster. But Dusty could decide that Lewis is sufficient as a back-up.

Battle for the final bullpen spot

If Arredondo is healthy, I only see one completely open spot in the 'pen, as  Cordero, Masset, Ondrusek, Bray and Chapman all have iron-clad or mostly ironclad claims.

Advantage: Jared Burton. He's been a successful reliever in the past and the Reds' willingness to tender him shows confidence that he's on the mend from his injuries. This one could really be a toss-up, given the continued existence Jordan Smith, Matt Maloney, Dontrelle Willis and Sam LeCure. There's no clear long-reliever if Burton makes it, so Maloney is a very close second.