The deadline for MLB teams to add players to their 40-man rosters ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft was today, and the Cincinnati Reds responded by adding six of their top minor league talents. Three position players and three relievers constituted the new wave of additions, and there were few real surprises.
The infielders all carry a solid prospect reputation, probably highlighted by former 1st round pick Alex Blandino. Blandino, who has spent time at each of 3B, SS, and 2B, posted a solid overall line between AA-AAA in 2017, hopefully showing that his 2016 slump was more a byproduct of a thigh injury than an overall dip in performance. Given that he posted an .835 OPS in his 473 PA last year and just turned 25 years old, he’ll get a chance to compete with the other litany of middle infield prospects for the Reds in Spring Training - though the glut at those positions may well lead to a trade from depth by the Reds this winter.
Joining Blandino as the position player adds were 2B Shed Long and OF Jose Siri, both of whom have rocketed up prospect lists in recent seasons. Long even managed to sniff some organizational Top 5 rankings after his monster 2016 season, and though he struggled a bit with the transition to AA in 2017, he’s still close enough to the big leagues and a viable enough talent to add to the roster. The same can be said for Siri despite him spending all of 2017 in Class A Dayton, since being 22 with quite possibly the most potent combination of power, speed, and OF defense in the system might well see him fast-tracked a bit anyway. Even at that low of a level, the Reds seemed unwilling to leave him exposed to the Rule 5 process, which is telling regarding how highly they value his talent.
On the pitching side, Seton Hall product Jose Lopez highlights the group, as he’s fresh off posting a 2.57 ERA in 147 IP between Daytona and Pensacola last year. The righty will likely begin the season in the Louisville rotation, unless he knocks down the doors early as several of his Pensacola rotation mates (Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle) did in 2017. Joining him is RHP Zack Weiss, who was a likely candidate to be added several years ago before an elbow issue wiped out a year of his development; however, his bounce-back in 2017 was enough to add him this time around, and he’ll enter 2018 a candidate to contribute to the wide-open bullpen race. Jesus Reyes also made the final cut, as his 3.60 ERA in 137.1 IP between Daytona and Pensacola also impressed the Reds enough to include him on the roster.
While none of these six truly can be considered reaches this time around, their additions do mean that several other notable, eligible players were not selected. Included among them are former 1st round pick Nick Howard, former 2nd rounder Taylor Sparks, toolsy Cuban OF Reydel Medina, slugger Gavin LaValley, and Tommy John-recoverer Wyatt Strahan, among many others. Of course, part of the decision that went in to leaving these players unprotected might well be that they feel they’re the least likely to be plucked away by other organizations, but that’ll play out with some crossed fingers come December’s Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings.
Best I can tell, that brings the team’s total number of rostered players to 39, which means they’ve got an open spot to use on, say, drafting a guy themselves in the Rule 5 Draft, signing a free agent, or adding another eligible player via trade.
Congrats to the six who’ve now made the roster and received a significant pay raise. Welcome to the Cincinnati Reds.