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Cincinnati Reds option Robert Stephenson, send Jesse Winker to minors

Friday's the best day to fire people, right?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds made a series of moves on Friday, the most notable of which included optioning RHP Robert Stephenson to AAA Louisville and sending OF Jesse Winker to minor league camp, according to Jamie Ramsey.

The decision to send Winker down was rather predictable, since the top position prospect in the Reds' system hasn't even seen time in AAA yet (and only has half of a season of AA experience to his name).  Winker went 5 for 15 with 3 runs scored and a solid .375 OBP in his Cactus League time in 2016, but an injury suffered in an outfield collision this week effectively shut down his time in big league camp.  Considering Kyle Waldrop was also optioned to AAA in this series of moves, that leaves Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall as the clear frontrunners for the LF position with the Reds on Opening Day.

Sending down Stephenson was a bit more of surprise, although with yesterday's signing of Alfredo Simon it became much more clear that the team would bring Bob along slowly despite the numerous injuries to the projected Reds starting pitchers so far this spring.  Stephenson threw just 7.1 innings in Cactus League play across 3 starts, and after being roughed up a bit in his most recent outing posted an ugly 8.59 ERA in that admittedly tiny sample.  He's likely to begin the season in Louisville - where he finished last year - and will look to keep refining his command while not burning time on his service clock as a member of the big league rotation.  Which, well, is quite prudent, and it seems Simon's stepping right in where Stephenson will leave off.

Included in the team's transaction flurry was the release of Jonathan Sanchez, the veteran lefty who was signed to a minor league deal just before camp began in Goodyear with the idea being that he may well be able of stepping into a bullpen role.  It was a longshot from the beginning - Sanchez had not thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2013 - and the 2.12 WHIP he posted in 4 Cactus League appearances must not have done enough to show he's still got what it takes at age 33.

That leaves 44 players still in Reds camp.