The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly talking to free agent shortstop Jose Iglesias on a deal for 2019. This was first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As I wrote earlier at Redleg Nation, when it comes to a backup shortstop, despite having a few other options, Jose Iglesias would clearly be the best of the bunch. I don’t want to dive into Iglesias specifically here. But bringing him in, assuming it happens, makes the Cincinnati Reds bench a very interesting situation.

Earlier this spring we saw manager David Bell note that he was hoping to have a 13-man pitching staff. That would mean eight men in the bullpen to go along with the five starting pitchers. That also means that the bench would only have room for four players.

A four-man bench is tough to figure out for the Cincinnati Reds. The infield seems locked in among the starters. Tucker Barnhart, Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, and Jose Peraza are locks if healthy. The outfield seems to have four spots locked up by Matt Kemp, Scott Schebler, Yasiel Puig, and Jesse Winker. One spot is also going to go to the backup catcher. Whether that’s going to be Curt Casali, who is recovering from hip surgery, to start the year or to Connor Joe or Kyle Farmer isn’t known at this point.

So, with that information at hand, we know that of the 12 position player spots available, 10 of them appear to be spoken for. That means there are two spots available for the following players, assuming the Reds do land Jose Iglesias:

Now, injuries or trades could always change things. But two spots available to that group of seven players is impressive depth. Four of those players have shown themselves to be big leaguers of at least some quality already. Two of them have been proven to be at least quality starting caliber options. And one of those guys outside of that group, Nick Senzel, is one of the best prospects in the game. Connor Joe is a Rule 5 draft pick and has to either make the team or be offered back to the Dodgers.

Depth is always a great thing to have. It makes the team stronger on so many different fronts. But when you look at the Cincinnati Reds bench, it just seems more and more like they are going to have to go with a 13-man bench instead of a 12-man bench. Even if they do that, they are still going to have some very tough decisions to make.

Guys like Dietrich and Iglesias are the types who probably have opt-out clauses near the end of the spring if they aren’t going to make the 25-man roster. Connor Joe’s situation as a Rule 5 draft pick will make the choice of keeping him around tough if he shows up and plays well in the spring. Nick Senzel showing he can handle center field, even if the team does decide to play games with his service time, will eventually make a tough decision for someone else.

Louisville could certainly be a big beneficiary of this situation. Guys like Alex Blandino, Kyle Farmer, Phillip Ervin – proven Major League contributors, could wind up in the minors for the Reds because of this. It could, however, also lead to the organization losing some players if not handled in a very specific way. It seems almost inevitable that at least one of Iglesias, Joe, or Dietrich would be lost if the team does indeed bring Iglesias into the fold. The only way all three could seemingly make the team is if Joe made it as the backup catching option. And that only lasts until Curt Casali returned to the team – which at least as of right now, wouldn’t seem to be too far into the season. He’s not 100% yet. But it’s been noted he is expected to be ready to begin the year in Cincinnati.

The real, but still very fake baseball games begin tomorrow. With the news that Sonny Gray has been scratched from his start with elbow stiffness, things haven’t gotten out to the greatest of news in Goodyear. But there are still a whole lot of storylines happening. And there are going to be a lot of storylines to keep an eye on. Nick Senzel and center field is the biggest one. But it’s also one that is going to dictate so much more. How the bench is set up relies so much on if he can play center.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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38 Responses

  1. AirborneJayJay

    Bench: Casali, Kemp, Dietrich, and Iglesias, until Senzel is called up. They will go to a 7 man bullpen at that time. A reliever goes down when Senzel is called up. Schebler goes to the bench.

  2. Optimist

    2 big ifs, but if they get Iglesias, and if they settle on CF (and with Senzel, Puig, Schebler, and Ervin (in AAA), they have numbers if so-so defense) all of a sudden we get to worry about catching. Any early injury to Tucker, and, whoops, we have a big problem. Any later in the season injury, and we may still have a problem, but please do not rush Stephenson.

    I suppose there is solace in numbers – Casali, Farmer, Graterol, Joe(?), but it’s always a tough spot to fill.

  3. Krozley

    I prefer having the choice between these players versus going north with some of the past bench choices like Pacheco, Holt, DeJesus, Alcantara, Pennington, and Gosselin. It leaves them with options to not rush Blandino’s health or Senzel’s time clock. If everyone is healthy, then they just take the best and not look back.

  4. Justin

    If we sign Iglesias, that can change the backup CF situation. Peraza can play CF if needed and Iglesias would start at SS. This means we could start the year with Senzel as your starting CF and Puig as a possible backup. What I’m saying is…WHAT CAN WE GET FOR SCHEBLER? (Kemp too, but Schebler with his pay and years of control seem more appealing to other teams)

    My opening day position player guess


    Cassali (Farmer until healthy)

    I’m guessing that Joe’s situation has already been contemplated. I’m guessing that they have a trade in the works with the Dodgers that will allow us to hold on to him and put him at Triple A. The rest hang out in the minors until called upon. Now to sort out the insane pitching depth…

  5. Tampa Red

    I love the depth. If in the end you need to send Joe back to the Dodgers but you get to keep Iglesias and Dietrich, well I’ll take that all day. Guys get hurt, go into slumps, need days off, matchups etc. If the Reds want to compete, then having that kind of depth is mandatory.

  6. Norwood Nate

    I like the depth. Never a bad problem to have. I think it could be advantageous to have Ervin and Blandino to stay down in AAA rather than be buried deep on the bench. The everyday ‘8’ is going to play a lot, hopefully and these guys would be behind some of the other options for PH at bats. Ervin is probably behind the other OF’ers for giving guys rest here and there. This Reds team has flexibility, and it seems like it’s something that Bell is going to keep promoting within the roster. He’s already talked about Suarez getting more time back at SS if needed and Lorenzen possibly getting time in CF. It doesn’t seem like he’s just going to give guys their roles without seeing what else they can do.

    I like a bench of Kemp, Schebler, Dietrich, Iglesias, and Casali. It has nice LH/RH balance and it covers all the positions on the field. Of course this means a 5 man bench, but I like that better than an 8 man bullpen regardless.

    • Frank Barton

      Why does everyone want Schebler to start and Kemp sit? Granted Kemp is just average defensively but could really contribute offensively with 81 games in the softball field called GABP. The Reds should have improved pitching but it won’t be exactly stellar and more runs will really help

  7. Randy in Chatt

    Doug, If Ervin and Blandino are possibly dropped to Louisville and the AAA pitching roster looking very strong what could the starting roster 8 position players and 5 SP (as you can figure out at this point) look like?

    • MK

      Could have a starting rotation with more mlb service time than any other AAA team. If it is Romano, Reed, Sims, Moscot, Finnegan they should be tough

  8. MK

    Couple things to consider, 2 40-man roster spots would need to be opened up if Iglesias and Dietrich make the team, though Iglesias would probably doom Trahan.

    It would probably really be pushing Blandino to use him so soon. A full year of rehab would probably be best.

    Iglesias has not played anything but shortstop since 2013.

    The Reds might set an mlb record for the most players named Iglesias at one time.

    • Bill

      One spot could come if Connor Joe is returned to the Dodgers . Also, Stephenson and Wisler both have to make the 25-man to keep their spots. Further , I would not lose any sleep over Bowman, Stephens or Reyes being DFA. Lastly, I could see the Reds moving Kemp to the AL for payroll savings or a mid tier prospect with the Reds paying Kemp’s salary.

      • MuddyCleats

        Good Pts. Like Iglesias add, and idea of trading Kemp and or other OFs to Cleveland for CF Allen and Kluber. Indians have depth in CF, but need corner help – perfect match IMO. Luv Sonny, but have suspected arm issues for last couple of yrs. Reds still need Quality SP and should use some of the depth and prospects to get it done. Why not Senzel in LF and Allen in CF?

  9. Bill

    I could see Louisville lining up like this:

    LF Ervin
    CF M. Williams
    RF Aquino
    3B Farmer
    SS Trahan
    2B Blandino
    1B Patterson
    C Graterol

    Bench: O’Grady, Wren, Colon and Turner

    Rotation: Mahle, Reed, Sims, Finnegan, Guttierez

    Pen: Romano, Peralta, Bowman, Mella, Herget, Reyes, Stephens

    Not a bad roster!

    • MuddyCleats

      Ole Ervin is an interesting player to me. Thought Reds over reached when the drafted him that high. A lot of Ks early and initial ML PT was very spotty. Since that time, he’s seems to have relaxed and was playing much better and having quality ABs late last season. Has a young Glenn Braggs or G. Foster look IMO

  10. Simon Cowell

    my hunch is that Casali and Stephenson are going to start the season on the DL. I bet one of them gets moved to the 60 days DL before it is all said and done.

  11. IndyRedsFan

    I expect to see a trade or two to reduce both the OF and the pitching surplus.

    Also, if Connor Joe impresses behind the plate, don’t rule out the possibility of him making the team as THE back-up catcher with Casali being traded.

    • Jim t

      I think your right a trade or two is still in our future.Trading Kemp before breaking camp has got to be at the top of DW’s to do list. If Kemp is traded the back up outfielder will be Schebler. Irvin starts year in Louisville. Iglesias and Dietrich are on the team with one of Farmer, Joe or if healthy Casali as the back up catcher. If they can’t move Kemp A 13 man pitching staff is not in the cards while keeping both back up infielders.

      • Cguy

        Just over 2 years ago the Reds basically gave away a very popular & still productive player in Brandon Phillips. The Reds paid $13MM of the $14MM he was owed & in return they got a couple guys who couldn’t pitch & weren’t very good throwers either. This was done under the guise of freeing up playing time for Jose Peraza & Dilson Hererra . A couple months later Scooter Gennett, a waiver claim, won the 2nd base job. I believe the Reds are in a similar situation with Matt Kemp, except he isn’t yet popular with Reds fans. Additionally, the remaining competitors for the 2 corner outfield jobs (Puig, Winker, Schebler, & Conner Joe) are better, more established MLers. Finally, the Reds have several dire needs for that 25th roster spot (Joe, Wisler, R. Stephenson, Dietrich). So why not a salary dump, sending Kemp & $12MM or $13MM of the $15MM they will eventually have to pay him? I’m sure there’s takers. It makes little sense to keep Kemp but not play him regularly. To play him early in the season, hoping for increased trade value, is a strategy of diminished returns. Either the Reds consider Kemp a regular player on this team, or there’s something in the works that we don’t know.

      • MuddyCleats

        Agree Jim & Cguy, again Indians still seem like a fit. They need corner OF help and RHH DH. IMO, I would try Kemp and Winker 2 fill that void. Have 2 give something to get something, so I offer Winker’s upside that many like 4 Kluber. Kemp’s $$$ would help off set Kluber’s contract. Indians have @ least 3 ML CF. I think Reds could pry away young Allen kid as an CF w/ speed option? More than likely, a prospect or 2 would need to be added 4 it to work. Gives Reds SP they still need and clears OF log jam

  12. James K

    Roster limits have been 25 for decades. Or is it forever? Half a century ago, that meant 10 pitchers and 15 other players. Now that teams seem to need 12 or 13 pitchers, isn’t it time to expand the roster limit?

  13. Bill

    An important metric for our potential bench candidates is their ability to hit when coming off the bench. Career numbers as a substitute which includes pinch hitting:

    – Iglesias, .333/.385/.417, only 13 career PA
    – Dietrech, .244/.347/.465, 147 career PA
    – Kemp, .245/.280/.415, in 157 career PA; .951 OPS in 27 PA in 2018
    – Schebler, .246/.319/.344 in 69 career PA
    – Casali, .205/.326/.308 in 47 career PA, .863 OPS in 18 PA in 2018
    – Barnhart, .188/.217/.266 in 72 career PA, .816 OPS in 20 PA in 2018

    Everyone’s numbers drop off as a pinch hitter except Casali—apparently pinch hitting is hard. Also, sample sizes are very small in any one year, but there’s reason for optimism. If he embraces the role, I think Kemp could really thrive as a PH/DH.

    • Wes

      Well said Bill. What other role could kemp embrace ? He can’t handle the grind of 162 games anymore- he will break down. Give him a start or two a week when he’s hot and be your first guy off the bench when u need a pinch hitter.

      No one is going to trade for kemp thinking they’ll start him and same for Schebler. If/when senzel is starting in center then one of them have to go via DFA. If you are trying to win this year- no clue how you don’t lean heavy toward a former superstar w track record like kemp. Let the competition begin!

  14. Mark

    I just do not think we need to trade Winker. I think he was gaining traction before the injury. The two outfielders that need to consider being traded are Kemp and Schebler. I believe they need to go for an extension for Puig and then you have your starting outfield until Siri or Trammel earn a promotion. If they end up extending Scooter then in my view India is a major trade piece at the deadline if we are in the hunt for the playoffs.

    • MuddyCleats

      I know many like him – just don’t C upside w/ limited power, speed & arm strength. Doubt any of 3 would bring much – need a pkg?

    • Bill

      The Indians really need a LF … don’t really have one percolating in the upper minors either. I think Schebler would be a nice fit for them. This year they would go with Schebler in LF, Martin in CF and Naquin in RF with Greg Allen as their 4th outfielder. Moving forward it would be Schebler, Zimmer and Naquin with Allen as the #4 guy. nIn return I would ask for one of catcher Bo Naylor, OF George Valera, SS Brayan Rocchio, RHP Luis Oviedo or RHP Lenny Torres—all lower minors players with high upside and either of RHPs Nick Sadlin or James Karinchak—both relievers that are about a year away from the big leagues. One of the Reds objectives in a trade should be to open a 40-man spot.

      I prefer Winker’s advanced plate approach and extra year of control over Schebler’s defense and power. Since the Reds control Dietrech through next year, I’m a little more comfortable moving a LF. Also, if Schebler stays, I think he’ll need more consistent playing time to stay sharp whereas Kemp, Iglesias and Dietrech can produce with fewer weekly starts.

      • MuddyCleats

        My guess is Tribe would prefer Winker’s potential & control as well. Wouldn’t expect Indians 2 give Kluber away 4 a couple of bench pieces?

      • Bill

        I really don’t see the Reds giving up the talent to get Kluber fom the Indians. Winker should not be off the table, but my ask would be higher, too. The Reds won’t want Nolan Jones as we have India in the minors and I can’t see the Indians giving up McKenzie. It will be interesting to see if the Reds move a corner outfielder.

      • Cguy

        Perhaps a trade proposal with Puig as the headliner for Kluber could interest the Indians. Add in Amir Garrett or Cody Reed plus a prospect like Jose Siri or Mike Siani might be enough?

      • Doug Gray

        You’re going to have to give up an elite prospect to get Kluber. They wouldn’t be interested in Puig, even though he’d help this year. They want long term, potentially elite assets in return.

      • Cguy

        Doug, I tend to agree, but Winker, Schebler are not elite prospects. They wouldn’t want Kemp & the Reds aren’t trading Senzel, Trammel, Greene, Santillan, or T. Stephenson (at least not yet). The Reds don’t want to make an offer the Indians won’t refuse, they just want to make an offer slightly better than comparable offers from other teams.

  15. Stock

    Iglesias is not announced but he has a locker so it is safe to assume he is a Red pending a physical.

  16. Stock

    I have been saying since the signing of Dietrich that the depth of the bench indicates a trade is in the offing.

    Casali, Dietrich and Iglesias need to be in Cincinnati come April 1.

    Four OF (Kemp, Winker, Puig and Schebler) need to be in Cincinnati come April 1.

    If Connor Joe shows their is potential he can catch at the ML level he needs to be in Cincinnati come April 1.

    I would be surprised if Kluber is an Indian come April. The Twins continue to improve. The Indians have great pitching but their OF is very weak. In fact outside of Lindor, Ramirez and possibly Kipnis their offense is very weak.

    Gennett and Schebler would help a lot. But SD have options too. With Machado, and possibly Harper, in fold they may offer a package that includes Reyes, Cordero, Margot and/or Myers.

  17. MBZ

    With these guys it would seem as if we’d have a 5 man bench, but Bell doubled down on a 13 man pitching staff, after the signing of Iglesias.

    They have to trade one of their corner outfileders. Nothing else makes sense.

    • MuddyCleats

      Hanley Rameriz 2 Tribe – wouldn’t see them wanting Kemp ?