The Cincinnati Reds are currently watching no fewer than four players duke it out for the opening LF, none of whom were with the team before last July. Their presumed CF, Billy Hamilton, has been out for most all of Spring Training as he recovers from the shoulder injury that ended his 2015 season prematurely. The same can be said for Zack Cozart, the incumbent SS, as he recovers from a devastating knee injury, as well as Devin Mesoraco, who just had his timetable pushed back 7-10 days as he attempts to come back from a debilitating hip injury. The Reds tried - and failed - to trade both RF Jay Bruce and 2B Brandon Phillips this offseason, yet the deals fell through and both are still with the team.
That means that right now, of the eight positions on the field in the game of play, the Reds can only roll out two that are players they can legitimately say they actually wanted to be there as regulars at this point and time - Joey Votto at 1B, and Eugenio Suarez at 3B. And, keep in mind that Eugenio Suarez hasn't started a regular season game at 3B as a professional since he was an 18 year old in rookie ball. Yikes.
The rotation, as fate would have it, can't truly claim a much better situation. The Reds only have three (three!) pitchers on the roster making more than league minimum at the moment, and two of them - Homer Bailey and Raisel Iglesias - have yet to appear in a Cactus League game in 2016. Bailey, of course, is recovering from Tommy John surgery (which happened in the wake of his recover from flexor tendon surgery, we forget), and won't be expected to be back with the team until at least mid-May. Iglesias, however, has been slowed by the 'shoulder fatigue' that had him shut down a bit early in 2015. Realistically, that's likely more of a precautionary measure given that he threw zero professional innings in 2013 while defecting from Cuba and logged just 7 innings - all in the Arizona Fall League - in 2014.
Iglesias, for what it's worth, is scheduled to throw live batting practice to Reds hitters on Tuesday at some point, according to Zach Buchanan of The Cincinnati Enquirer. If Iglesias emerges from that with no lingering issues, the plan appears to be to get him into Cactus League action by this time next week. All told, the Reds probably aren't terribly concerned with rushing him to be ready by Opening Day, since the Reds have already been rewarded by nature of his complicated contract. Iglesias signed a 7 year, $27 million contract with the Reds back in 2014, so despite his limited playing time thus far he's already in year three of that deal. Much like the Reds' previous deal with Aroldis Chapman, however, Iglesias will have the option to opt-in to the arbitration process once he's eligible service-time wise (should he want to), which means the Reds actually have team control of him beyond 2020 (which is currently the last year under contract should he not opt-in). With just 154 days of service time under his belt - less than the 172 days needed to count for a full year - the Reds will have control of him through 2021, which would actually be a year beyond the original contract in the first place. So yeah, they're going to be quite patient with him, and given he threw just 134.1 innings between AAA-MLB in 2015, slowing him out of the gate in 2016 is both prudent and to be expected.
positive Reds news, it seems that Keyvius Sampson is fighting an ailment, too. Sampson, in his own words, is "out for a little bit," according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, thanks to a sore triceps in his throwing arm just a few months removed from having bone chips removed. That's surely a bummer to Sampson, who seemed poised to challenge for a spot in the team's bullpen out of camp in Goodyear.
The Baltimore Orioles signed former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger (and Vanderbilt Commodore) Pedro Alvarez yesterday, bringing in the big lefty power bat they'd been searching for throughout the offseason. They'd been linked with Jay Bruce as a potential fill for that role for months, so it's now likely that they're reported pursuit of the Reds' RF is over. That, of course, most likely means that Alvarez will be the primary DH while Mark Trumbo patrols RF in Camden Yards, and...well, good luck with that defense, Baltimore pitchers.
Over at FanGraphs, Craig Edwards (our buddy from VEB) took a multi-layered look at projected MLB payrolls for the 2016 season, especially in the context of the last few seasons. He noted that the average MLB payroll for 2016 will be $128 million (with the median not far off at $126 million), which is astronomic when considering where those numbers were just five years ago. The Reds, of course, aren't anywhere near that, and appear set to have the 5th lowest payroll in the league in 2016 (along with the 3rd largest year over year decline in payroll). Of course, that's what happens when you trade away four former All Stars (among others) since the end of the 2014 season.
Finally, former Red Micah Owings is apparently attempting a comeback, this time as a pitcher after having alternated between the mound and being a position player in various iterations along the way.