Today marked the deadline for MLB teams to add players to their 40-man rosters to protect those eligible to be selected in next month's Rule 5 Draft, and the Cincinnati Reds added seven from their minor leagues.
Reds add RH Barrett Astin, RH Keury Mella, RH Jackson Stephens, RH Nick Travieso, OF Aristides Aquino, OF Phillip Ervin, OF Jesse Winker.— Reds Media Relations (@RedsPR) November 18, 2016
There are few surprises with this list, as it includes a trio of former 1st round selections by the Reds (Winker, Ervin, Travieso), the toolsiest player in the system (Aquino), and three high-upside arms off solid MiLB seasons (Astin, Mella, Stephens). Their additions make the team's roster full at 40 players.
The path of the team's rebuild meant that this particular offseason would require tough roster decisions, something we've detailed here before. When a team is both rebuilding and prioritizing near-majors prospects as their return, shipping out one player and receiving two, three, or four in return set up this particular roster crunch almost by definition. As a result, who wouldn't be added to the roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft almost became harder to figure out than guessing which prospects the team would protect.
The nature of the Rule 5 Draft itself makes this entire process incredibly intriguing, at least to nerds like me. It's not just an exercise in adding the team's best prospects, it's an educated guessing game. Just because a player isn't added to the 40-man roster - protected, if you will - doesn't automatically mean the Reds will lose them. Strategically choosing players that other teams won't select is a huge part in this process, almost as a way of building in ghost spots on the roster to help save extra players. It's truly a prisoner's dilemma.
It's that part of the thinking game that saw the likes of Jon Moscot and Zack Weiss not protected, for instance. Obviously, their minor league track records suggest that most any team would have interest in adding them for such a minor price, but injury issues have wrought havoc on both of them, so the odds a different team would choose to select them and keep them on their 25-man roster for the length of an entire season are near nil. The same can largely be said for former 1st round draft pick Jonathon Crawford, as well.
As for the other prominent names not added today, the ones that stand out the most are Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham, Chad Wallach, and Zach Vincej, I suppose. Both Jagielo and Cotham came to the Reds from the New York Yankees in last year's Aroldis Chapman trade, but roster redundancy and poor 2016 seasons likely meant the Reds weren't willing to use a roster space on them. Wallach similarly came to the Reds via trade, joining Anthony DeSclafani as the return from the Miami Marlins in the Mat Latos deal, but injuries have somewhat stunted his progression through the minors. Vincej, however, was drafted and developed by the Reds, and after a scintillating Arizona Fall League campaign this year, it wouldn't completely shock me if a team takes a flier on him in the Rule 5 with eyes on him as a utility infielder.