With the trade of Sonny Gray there’s two spots in the rotation that are now seemingly up for grabs with the Cincinnati Reds. Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Vladimir Gutierrez appear to have their spots locked in as long as they are healthy. But with Gray gone as of yesterday, and Wade Miley now on the Chicago Cubs after the baffling decision to place him on waivers, Cincinnati has about 300 innings that they need to replace from those two pitchers. There are more than a few options for the team to look at this spring, with Hunter Greene perhaps leading the way.

“We’re all excited to see Hunter,” said Reds manager David Bell on Sunday. “He’s healthy, had a full season last year. We know what he’s capable of, the kind of person he is, the kind of talent he is. I believe he’s ready. This creates even more of an opportunity for Hunter. Hunter just has to go out and be himself, do his thing, and that’ll take care of itself. We’re looking forward to seeing him pitch and seeing where he is.”

There’s plenty of competition for the spots that are open. Along with Greene the Reds are also looking at Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Tony Santillan, Riley O’Brien, and Reiver Sanmartin. It does sound like the team could still be looking outside of the organization, too, though.

“We’re going to look to fill that (rotation spot), whether it’s internally or externally,” said Reds general manager Nick Krall. “We’re still looking on the free agent market, we’re still looking at the trade market. We’re still trying to run our offseason as we go into spring training, so we’re still working on it.”

He didn’t dismiss the possibility that the younger guys could grab the spots. Manager David Bell was on a similar page with the spot in the rotation.

“In spring training it’s such a short period of time, so there’s a limit on how much you can evaluate and determine in spring training,” Bell said on Sunday. “But it is a competition, it creates an open spot in our rotation, which always a positive thing. Looking at the situation with some of our younger pitchers, it creates an opportunity there. We have a great group of non-roster invites. People are going to step up. As hard as it is to lose good players and good people, it does create opportunity for players. And we’re really excited about our young group of players, young group of starting pitchers. That’s the way this game goes. So that’s exciting. Having the opportunity to see those guys with a legitimate chance to make the team and contribute, that brings excitement to our team.”

There are currently three spots open on the Reds 40-man roster. So if one of the non-roster invitees does win a spot in the rotation – at least as of now, there’s room for them to be added without making any other roster moves. On the 40-man you’ve got Hunter Greene, Tony Santillan, Riley O’Brien, and Reiver Sanmartin gunning for the jobs. Among the non-roster guys you’ve got Graham Ashcraft and Nick Lodolo.

Usually being on the 40-man roster will give someone a leg up if the call is going to be close. However with so many spots open to fill that probably won’t come into play. What could come into play, though, is something that David Bell did allude to – spring training is such a short period of time leading to some inability to truly evaluate. That could benefit a guy like Hunter Greene, Tony Santillan, or Reiver Sanmartin. The latter two have some time in the big leagues – Santillan posted a 2.91 ERA last season in 43 games with most of those coming in relief, while Sanmartin pitched well in two starts over the final week against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Greene pitched well in Triple-A and dominated in Double-A last season. O’Brien pitched in Triple-A, and got a taste of the big leagues with a single start last season – but he was merely solid with Louisville last year (4.55 ERA with 55 walks in 112.2 innings). Nick Lodolo dominated in Double-A, but only threw 50.2 total innings last year and that included three starts in Triple-A where he threw a combined 6.2 innings. Graham Ashcraft was the minor league pitcher of the year winner for the organization, but he topped out in Double-A.

A lot could go into the decision making. The opinion of Derek Johnson will likely hold a ton of weight and he’s probably not going to be just using game-related stats from the spring to form his opinion. There are only three-and-a-half weeks until Opening Day. Past information is going to matter quite a bit. Decisions really shouldn’t be made on how guys perform in the spring unless there’s a clear change in skillset from their past baseline. But even in a normal spring training there aren’t enough innings and the playing level is uneven because of who is at the plate ranging from guys who will head to Single-A to guys who will be in the big leagues but may or may not be working on something specific rather than competing like they would in a regular season game. Toss in the shorter term looks that everyone is going to get and it makes the decision quite a bit tougher for everyone involved.

12 Responses

  1. MuddyCleats

    Clearly Greene is the front runner and should be based on his draft & prospect position. Nevertheless, he may not be quite ready. This is what ST is for – to find out who is.
    Not necessarily a Hoffman fan, but guy has started in ML and pitched well at times in Denver no less. What have the Reds done to improve his offerings? He has a good FB, but his secondary offerings need improvement. Specifically, his change up needs work. Reminds me a little of Kevin Gausman sans the split – change….:(

  2. SultanofSwaff

    I’d slot Greene 4th and not think twice about service time or health. If winning matters, he needs to be on the team. This is a generational talent for goodness sake.

    As for the 5th starter, you could do a lot worse than Santillan, but I think they like him in the bullpen. I don’t like the other in-house options (rather keep Hoffman in the bullpen) and really don’t like the lack of depth so it makes sense to pick up a journeyman starter—a reunion with Cueto makes a lot of sense.

  3. LDS

    The Reds aren’t looking at the FA market or the trade market, at least not in a serious sense. Sadly, I still expect them to dump more payroll. And Bell and Krall’s comments contained nothing to dissuade me. Krall’s already been shown to be spinning, telling folks what they want to hear and then doing something different. 4th place or bust. That’s the Reds cheer for this year.

  4. Hunt4RedsOct

    With the flurry of free-agent signings oh, the waiver wire is starting to fill up. The Giants could just put on waivers Hunter Harvey and reliever Caleb Baragar, Harvey was a highly ranked prospect just a few years ago and reds have 3 roster spots.

  5. Hoyce

    San Martin will be great as a starter. And for the 5th I’d piggy back Lodolo and ashcraft. Ask for 4 innings outta each. That way it keeps their innings low. And half way they yr move ashcraft to the pen and call up Greene if he’s deemed ready.

  6. Hoyce

    Reds trade winker and Suarez to mariners. For minimal return. Not even a top 5 mariner prospect. Ugggg

  7. kevinz

    Hate losing Winker, glad unload Suarez though.
    Liked Dunn before hopefully works out.

    • Hoyce

      Suarez gonna round back into form this yr and actually be a bargain. But not terribly upset about losin him. But this return is embarrassing. Reds get fleeced every trade.
      Senzel needs moved back to 3B. And it’s sink or swim time

      • Gregory Bott

        Not in that stadium. Suarez will probably be out of baseball soon.

  8. Jim m

    Reds minor league team would beat our ML team now. What a freaking joke