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Cincinnati Reds roster outlook

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A look at the administrative moves on the horizon.

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The 2021 World Series begins this evening, and once again the invitation for the Cincinnati Reds must have been lost in the mail. What’s of relevance for them, though, is that the 2021 MLB season will be over within the next week or so, and the routine offseason administrative decisions will begin within a handful of days after that.

The players who will be free agents after the season will officially become free agents. Players with options and opt-out clauses will make their final calls. Players who were injured and on injured lists will be placed back onto the 40-man roster, all of which will set the baseline for the rest of the subjective, non-objective decisions the Reds will have to make for the rest of the Hot Stove season.

Here’s a quick guide for what we’ll see from them in the coming weeks.

Players reaching free agency

These players finished the regular season as members of the Reds roster, but will officially become free agents at the conclusion of the World Series

  • Michael Lorenzen
  • Mychal Givens
  • Asdrubal Cabrera

Players with team options

These players finished the regular season as members of the Reds roster, and the Reds have the option of exercising team control over them for the 2022 season or buying them out of that year instead, the latter of which would allow the players to reach free agency.

  • Wade Miley ($10 million option, $1 million buyout)
  • Tucker Barnhart ($7.5 million option, $500K buyout)
  • Justin Wilson ($7.15 million option, $1.15 million buyout - only if Wilson declines to pick up his $2.3 million player option for 2022)

Players with player options

These players finished the regular season as members of the Reds roster, and have the option to return on a pre-agreed upon contract for 2022.

  • Justin Wilson ($2.3 million option)

Players with opt-out clauses

These players finished the regular season as members of the Reds roster, are under contract beyond 2021, but have the ability to opt-out of said deal and become free agents.

  • Nick Castellanos ($16 million salary for 2022, $16 million salary for 2023, $20 million mutual option for 2024 (with $2 million buyout))

Players on 60-day injured list

These players finished the regular season as members of the Reds roster, though finished it while on the 60-day IL. Placement on the 60-day IL temporarily removed them from the team’s 40-man roster, so they will have to be returned to the 40-man roster.

  • Tejay Antone
  • Brandon Bailey
  • Nick Senzel

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At the conclusion of the 2021 regular season, the Cincinnati Reds had 39 players on their 40-man roster. The subtraction of the trio of free agents gets that number down to 36, while the return of the trio of 60-day IL members returns it to 39. My assumptions are that Justin Wilson will pick up his player option (he’s already counted in that 39), but that Nick Castellanos will opt-out of his contract and reach free agency, dropping that back down to 38.

The option decisions on both Wade Miley and Tucker Barnhart would seem to be pretty obvious pickups for most clubs, but the Reds aren’t most clubs when it comes to spending money. Each would have trade value if their team options were picked up, but there’s also reason to believe the Reds might just buy them out and avoid the risk of having that $17.5 million on the payroll. Picking up both options would keep the team’s 40-man roster at 38, buying out both would drop it to 36.

This is all before the December 2nd non-tender deadline, of course. The Reds can decide between now and then which players under team control they’d like to pay to play next year, and declining to do so for any player would lop them off the 40-man roster and send them into free agency, too. That deadline is in the run-up to the Winter Meetings and Rule 5 Draft, and 40-man roster spots become important as prospects and minor leaguers who’ve been in the system for long enough to be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft can be protected by being added to the 40-man roster.

In other words, the more open 40-man roster spots, the more flexibility on all accounts.