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Justin Nicolino clears waivers

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There are two roster spots now available with two days before Opening Day

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds’ 40-man roster is still unresolved, but the picture has gotten incrementally clearer. Justin Nicolino, who the Reds claimed off the waiver wire from the Marlins just two days ago, has this time cleared waivers and has been sent to Louisville to begin the season. That leaves the Reds 40-man roster with 38 players at the moment, and two-to-three remaining bullpen spots on the Opening Day roster up for grabs.

The most important unknown right now is the status of newly signed David Hernandez. Inked to a two-year deal this winter to help shore up the soft middles of the bullpen, Hernandez has been dealing with a twanked shoulder. If he is cleared to go on Thursday, he will be on the team, leaving two spots open for Austin Brice, Zach Weiss, and Vance Worley. Brice and Weiss are already on the 40-man and can be optioned to AAA while Worley will have to be added to the 40-man in the event he makes the team.

The Reds brass has emphatically leveraged the waiver process recently. Just last week, they claimed Kennys Vargas from the Twins, only to see him head right back to Minnesota when they tried to get him through the waiver process themselves. The trick worked with Nicolino this time, as he went unclaimed when the Reds put him out on waivers. It’s quite clever I think, as it is a low-risk way of adding major-league ready talent to the organization. As the Vargas episode illustrated, the worst thing that can happen is the player gets reclaimed and the modest $50k fee is recouped.

Those two open spots on the 40-man are really useful for executing this wily strategy. I would not be at all surprised to see them try to add more talent in this way over the next few days.