The Cincinnati Reds made sent five former members of their 40-man roster outright to AAA on Monday, the first of many waves we’ll witness of the like in the run-up to the Rule 5 Draft in December.
Tyler Holt, Jon Moscot, Matt Magill, Patrick Kivlehan, and Raffy Lopez each cleared waivers and were sent to Louisville, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon noted. It effectively cleared just four spots on the team’s 40-man roster, however, since we already knew Kivlehan’s spot had been taken by Arismendy Alcantara when the latter was claimed off waivers last Thursday.
The purge leaves 36 active Reds on the team’s 40-man roster, though that’s a number that requires a few qualifiers. Included in that 36 is Ross Ohlendorf, for instance, though he’ll be a free agent once the World Series ends, and therefore the effective number shrinks to 35. It also doesn’t account for the five rostered players currently on the 60-day DL, each of whom will need to be added back to the 40-man roster shortly after the World Series ends or be waived; however, Alfredo Simon is one of those five, and he’s set to be a free agent at that point, meaning only Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco, Yorman Rodriguez, and Caleb Cotham figure to be added at that point, which would then leave the roster with 39 players.
That would seem like a healthy, functioning roster. However, one of the byproducts of having prioritized players who were near MLB ready in most of the recent trades means the Reds now have a slew of players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December. Pair that with the fact that the Reds have had high draft picks given to them through the Competitive Balance Rounds in recent years - something the big market teams aren’t afforded - and up to 9 members of Doug Gray’s Top 25 prospects in the system are set to be exposed in the Rule 5 Draft should they not be added to the roster beforehand. Included on that list are former 1st round picks Jesse Winker, Nick Travieso, and Phil Ervin, as well as MLB Pipeline’s system hitter of the year Aristides Aquino and former Giants top overall prospect Keury Mella. Not even cracking that list are a bevy of other high-profile players added in other recent trades, such as former 1st round picks Jonathon Crawford and Eric Jagielo.
That’s quite the pending roster crunch. In other words, Monday’s flurry of moves are just the beginning of the latest iteration of roster overhaul, one paralleling the rebuild/reboot we’ve seen to the big league dugout over the last two years. It’s a good problem to have, of course, since it highlights having ample players worthy of a chance at the big leagues, but it will also require being creative with trades in order to avoid the risk of losing players purely to the numbers game.
Get your caramel corn ready.