The Cincinnati Reds have some big decisions to make today. They have until 6pm ET to add players to the 40-man roster and keep them protected from the Rule 5 Draft that will take place on the final day of the Winter Meetings in early December.

Players that are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft will be anyone who has reached minor league free agency in their career, or players who were 19-years-old or older and signed in 2020 or earlier, or anyone who signed in 2019 or earlier and are not already on a team’s 40-man roster.

For Cincinnati there are only two players that I think have a better than 50-50 chance of being added to the 40-man roster today. Both of the players happen to be position players, too. And both Rece Hinds and Jacob Hurtubise are also outfielders.

Rece Hinds feels like he’s an absolute lock to be protected. He tied for the farm system lead with 23 home runs this season. In his 461 plate appearances he had 29 doubles, 6 triples, 23 home runs, stole 20 bases, and he hit .269/.330/.536. But those numbers don’t quite tell the whole story. The Reds #12 prospect struggled in the first two months of the season. He then made some adjustments both mechanically and mentally at the plate and he went off over the final four months of the season. Hinds hit .303/.375/.617 from May 26th through the end of the season, and he did so while drastically cutting down on his strikeout rate up to that point.

Jacob Hurtubise, the Reds #24 prospect, had a breakout season in 2023. He split his time between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. He hit seven times as many home runs in 2023 as he had in his entire career up to that point. Ok, ok, sure he only had one home run in his career coming into the season but it’s still fun to say. To go along with his career high seven home runs he hit .330/.479/.483 with 77 walks, 63 strikeouts, and 45 stolen bases in 455 plate appearances.

For Hurtubise there’s some argument – you can determine how good of one that argument is – that maybe he could struggle in the big leagues because he’s at the bottom tier of exit velocity. While we’re working with some limited data on the public side of things, between Triple-A and his time in the Arizona Fall League he’s got 92 non-bunts worth of batted ball data and his average exit velocity is 81.7 MPH. There were 496 players in MLB in 2023 who had at least 50 batted balls. Hurtubise’s 81.7 MPH average exit velocity would be the second worst out of all of those players. Only Mike Brosseau of the Brewers, who was at 81.3 MPH on his 53 batted balls, would have been worse.

Exit velocity isn’t everything, though. It certainly matters – hitting the ball hard is good. But hitting the ball often matters, too. Hurtubise has generally made plenty of contact. And he also understands the strikezone quite well, drawing walks at a high rate and in 2023 he walked more than he struck out. But that’s just the stuff he does at the plate, and there’s more to his game than just that. He’s one of the fastest players in the organization and as evidenced by what he’s done in his career, can steal plenty of bases. Defensively he can cover you in center, left, or right – though he’s not your traditional right fielder. But he’s got all of the things you look for in a bench outfielder except for power – he can come in and lay down a bunt if asked, he can make contact when asked, he can pinch run for you, and he can play good defense around the outfield.

Maybe Cincinnati takes a risk that he wouldn’t be selected. With Hinds being a lock, or so it would seem, the Reds would have a 40-man roster full of outfielders. Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild, Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, TJ Hopkins, Nick Martini, and Bubba Thompson are all already on the 40-man. Toss in that Spencer Steer, Nick Senzel, and Jose Barrero are also all capable of playing the outfield and on the 40-man roster, leaving the Reds with 10 capable outfield options before even adding anyone. That’s a large amount of players for just three or four positions (if we include the designated hitter).

The 40-man roster for Cincinnati is currently sitting at 37 players. They’ve got room to add multiple players if they so choose. The question is more about whether or not they will choose to do that.

When it comes to pitchers I think there’s a chance, but a lower end chance, that the club could decide to add Christian Roa or Jose Acuna. Until the team decided to allow Jayvien Sandridge to head to free agency instead of adding him to the 40-man roster last week, I believed that they were going to keep him around. I was wrong on that one.

With Christian Roa, it’s clear that he’s got plenty of stuff. He struck out 170 batters in 120.1 innings this season between Double-A and Triple-A. But he also lacks control. In those same 120.1 innings he walked 91 batters. You could understand both sides of the coin on deciding to protect him. As a guy who has clearly shown he can rack up strikeouts in Double-A and Triple-A as a starting pitcher, a team may think that they could move him to the bullpen and that could help mitigate his control issues as well as increase his strikeouts. At the same time teams may look at 91 walks in 120.1 innings and think that it’s a profile that won’t work at the big league level.

On the flip side of that is Jose Acuna. He’s not yet pitched above High-A and he doesn’t have big time stuff. But he’s solid across the board, has some control, and multiple offerings he can throw for strikes. While he’s been a starter to this point in his career, his lack of Double-A or Triple-A experience almost assuredly means no team will be looking at him as a starter if they select him – at least for 2024. But plenty of teams select pitchers who were starting in the minors and move them to the bullpen with the idea that the stuff will play up and they can better execute on their strengths.

We’ll all find out what the Reds decide to do at some point later today. There are three spots open for additions right now. There are usually some trades around the league on protection day as some clubs are looking to move players they won’t be protecting that other teams could be interested in, and that could change the math if Cincinnati gets involved in something like that. But for now, I’m expecting Hinds and Hurtubise to be added.

46 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    Hinds is not too difficult of a decision.

    Hurtubise likely isn’t one either, although for different reasons. It’s hard to see Hurtubise as more than a 4/5th outfielder. There is value in that, especially in areas such as cost controlled, etc.

    But it’s hard to see Hurtubise beating out Friedl, Benson or Fraley from the left side of the batter’s box. And Martini seems like a DFA candidate to me.

    And adding Hurtubise over RH Fairchild or Barrero as the 26th man is questionable too, Thompson, not so much. Senzel is a whole other debate.

    So, if protected, he’s likely a AAA piece for part or all of the year, at least. Not protecting him means he’s someone else’s 4/5th outfielder.

    Seems like the best value is protecting him, whether he fits or not, as he’s got to have some attraction to a second division club just looking to add pieces. And maybe more.

    • Greg

      Hinds only.

      I have no FOMO on Hurbetoise, and I don’t see the tool kit that another team is going to lock on to and carry all season as a 5th outfielder

      • DaveCT

        It’s not a fear of missing out. As I said, Hurtubise may not contribute at all this year given the LH bats ahead of him.

        Rather, it’s having a serviceable ML ready or near ML ready piece that has better value in hand as opposed to lost for a nominal fee.

        Teams select these players — we have recently, ie Jake Cave, Connor Joe. Doesn’t mean they stick, obviously. But if a spot is open, and I suspect Thompson, Martini and perhaps others will add to these, the only harm is we have to pass him through waivers later if we’ve made a mistake.

        With that, my greater concern is the lack of power. A player I like quite a bit, Alejo Lopez, is another well rounded guy without much power who won’t find a spot on a deep team.

        Hurtubise may have a better way forward, if the game continues to evolve towards speed and as players such as Steven Kwan find roles.

      • RedBB

        He may have hurt his stock in the AFL I’m afraid. I could see Roa getting rostered over him. Especially after we saw what Boyle did with the A’s a not so dissimilar pitcher IMO

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Boy, that’s a glut of outfielders. Steer, Friedl, and Benson all OPS’d over .800 so until they prove otherwise they should all be starting 5 days a week. That doesn’t leave much playing time for the others save for a platoon partner for Benson. It would be nice for the backups to not exhibit such strong splits though. Too often Fraley and Senzel are sent to the plate in late/close situations and simply can’t compete while Fairchild is mostly even. So yeah, while not being first on Krall’s to-do list, clearing out some of this glut while making the bench pieces more even handed should be remedied.

    • BK

      At least a few outfielders will be cleared out before opening day. I’m sure the Reds are entertaining offers on several players today, leading up to the deadline.

  3. Krozley

    I would lean towards not protecting Hurtubise. Maybe if they hadn’t picked up Thompson who seems to have a similar profile, there would be room, but I think it is one or the other. With Dunn, Hinds, Hopkins, & Thompson seemingly at AAA, and even Drew Mount, there’s enough depth if they would lose Hurtubise, which is definitely not a lock. I think they’ll need that spot for some acquisitions. For the others, Hinds is a lock and I doubt Acuna would be selected given his lack of both upper minors experience and electric stuff. I could see them protecting Roa as having more upper level arms with potential is not a bad thing. So I think they will add Hinds and Roa while non-tendering Martini to get to 38 leaving room for two free agent signings and then hopefully some switching out via trade upgrades.

    • Stock

      Interesting reasoning on why you don’t protect Hurtubise. If I were ranking these four OF I would rank them 1. Dunn, 2. Hurtubise, 3. Thompson and 4. Hopkins.

      Thompson and Hopkins are already on the 40 man roster.

      I am not sure where Doug would rank Thompson since he is not a prospect but since Hopkins is still a prospect and did not make Doug’s top 25 he must rank Hurtubise as a better prospect than Hopkins.

      I disagree with the leave Hurtubise off since he has a similar profile to Thompson. You don’t want to risk losing Hurtubise when you have room today.

      If the need to create room on the 40 man occurs later you drop Hopkins because I am pretty sure he would make it through waivers. Thompson nearly made it through waivers this year and if not for the Reds claiming he probably would have. Therefore, he would be another option if a second player needs to be dropped.

      I just don’t see letting another team claim the 2nd best OF for the Louisville Bats as a means to potentially giving another team the 4th best OF for the Louisville Bats.

      • BK

        Doug had Hopkins at #19 on his list placing him ahead of Hurtubise.

      • Stock

        I overlooked Hopkins made Doug’s top 25. Therefore, it is just my opinion.

      • Doug Gray

        I forgive you. This time. Next time you have to bring doughnuts to the offseason Reds hot stove listening parties.

    • MK

      Really think Martini is a nice left handed bat with some power off the bench. Reds are finally at the point where bench pieces can be valued.

  4. Stock

    I think Hinds and Hurtubise are locks. The reason I think Hurtubise is a lock is because I think he is better than Bubba Thompson whom the Reds just added to their 40 man roster.

    Both Bubba Thompson and Hurtubise struggle to make consistently hard contact. Thompson’s average exit velocity in the majors last year was 82.1 which is better than Hurtubise’s 81.7 but not enough to matter. Thompson has a bit more power but Hurtubise has a much better hit tool.

    Furthermore, even though the Reds have but 3 spots available now more spots will open later on. Nick Senzel will not be extended a qualifying offer so will be either traded before the end of the year or released.

    That means the Reds will be at 38 at YE if they add Hurtubise and Hinds.

    That means the Reds can add 2 FA this winter.

  5. Optimist

    I think the Hector/Acuna return for Naquin could end up being extremely one-sided. That said, I doubt they keep Acuna with a roster spot here – not for potential, but simply on the chance that very few teams would take him, and even those few that could are unlikely to retain him. He’s just too hard to carry either in the pen or as an occasional starter – just too big a leap to MLB in either case.

    • Stock

      I agree Optimist. I also think Acuna should be moved to the bullpen so he has the potential to be in the show in 2025.

      Using Doug’s rankings he is 12th in the Reds SP depth chart (5 ML SP and 6 ahead of him in Doug’s rankings). Chances of him starting for the Reds is pretty slim.

  6. Stock

    Roa is an interesting decision. I think it is an indicator of what the Reds plan to do this offseason.

    If they protect him that may mean they may plan to be fairly quiet on the FA front.

    If they do not protect that tells me the Reds plan to add at least 2 players via FA or Trades.

    For this reason I hope they leave him unprotected.

    • BK

      If the Reds planned to protect Roa, he likely would have been added in September. I don’t see him getting protected.

    • DaveCT

      From the never say never department, I cannot see Roa being added. It isn’t that he’s not that good, its that he hasn’t developed.

      Yes, 330 career K’s in 270 innings. But 172 BB’s in those same 270 innings (5.7 per 9 IP) doesn’t even cry ML reliever, especially with 31 HR’s.

      In 2023, at AA and AAA, those numbers worsened to 91 BB’s in 120 innings, with 19 (!) HR’s. Imagine that at GABP.

      To me, he’s a straight reliever and always has been. If they keep him at all, he’s a full-time move to the pen.

  7. Laredo Slider

    Please list RBIs on hitting stats.

    Reds need to get past this stance that Senzel is a good OF option, the guy is terrible. Just because you play a guy in the OF doesn’t mean he’s a good outfielder. Gets poor jumps, makes poor reads, either throws to wrong base or overthrows cutoff man frequently. Mark my words, Senzel’s next stop in whatever organization that will take him will be 1B where he doesn’t have to think a lot.

  8. Doc

    Biggest knock on Boyle was his control. After he was traded, plenty of people were quick to point out how well he was pitching for his new team. Hope they don’t make the same mistake again, especially giving someone away for a little cash.

    • doctorrockett

      Agree, Doc. However, as I’ve mentioned before, perhaps the change in organizational pitching philosophies had something to do with Boyle’s epiphany…something to consider.

    • DaveCT

      Boyle has historically made short runs where he pitches well with good control. This past run was something like 30 innings.

  9. BK

    Several have commented that the Reds need to leave spaces on the 40-man roster to add free agents. This is a false assumption. The Reds can DFA a player anytime to add a free agent. Today is only a deadline for protecting players from the Rule 5 draft.

    • Doug Gray

      Correct. And trades can also happen. Plenty of ways to clear a spot or two if needed.

  10. MBS

    Have to protect, Hinds, Hurtubise, Acuna, Roa. There is zero reason for any of those 4 to be risked.

    We have 37 on the 40, and I can name more than 1 that should be nontendered. Senzel is a no brainer DFA, Bubba, and Farichild as well, and we only looked at the OF. The Pitchers have several that need to go. We have a lot of bad fits in the pen, but I wouldn’t move them until we aquire their replacements.

    • BK

      I think Stoudt and Sanmartin are the most vulnerable pitchers on the 40-man roster. On the hitting side, Thompson and Martin are likely the most susceptible. I doubt the Reds will DFA Barrero until the last minute, but he is likely available via trade.

      As long as the Reds have Fraley and Benson on the roster, Senzel is a practical option for the weak side of the platoon. Fairchild would almost certainly make the opening-day roster if spring training broke today–while he’s a slightly below-average hitter, he plays good defense, runs well, and has very narrow splits.

      My guess is that Hinds and Hurtubise will be protected.

      • MBS

        I hope you’re wrong. Senzel and Fairchild are not only bad options, but a sign that this team made no improvements. They are currently my 12th, and 14th man on the roster if we kept things status quo. Barrero squeezes out Fairchild as the 13th imo.

        No I’d really like to add another quality bat, and have my 13th man be Martini, or Hopkins.

      • BK

        I’m much more concerned about making improvements to the pitching staff. Our offense was top 10 in MLB even giving hundreds of at bats to Myers, Newman, Vosler, Barerro, and Casali–all on the opening day roster and all well below average. Senzel and Fairchild are big improvements over them. I’m not against improving the position players, but pitching is a much greater need.

    • DaveCT

      Cut and paste from above regarding Roa.

      It isn’t that he’s not that good, its that he hasn’t developed.

      Yes, 330 career K’s in 270 innings. But 172 BB’s in those same 270 innings (5.7 per 9 ip) doesn’t even cry ML reliever, especially with 31 HR’s.

      In 2023, at AA and AAA, those numbers worsened to 91 BB’s in 120 innings, with 19 HR’s. Imagine that at GABP.

      To me, he’s a straight reliever and always has been. If they keep him at all, he’s a full-time move to the pen.

      Compare that to Stoudt.

      119 BB’s in 275 innings. That’s 3.9 per 9 vs. Roa at 5.7 career (at AAA it closer, 5.5 vs 6.9).

      Yet Stoudt is consistently mentioned as a DFA candidate.

      • BK

        I agree, I’m not exchanging Roa for Stoudt, especially given the improvement Stoudt showed out of the pen.

  11. Matt McWax

    Definitely would protect Hurtubise and he would make my opening day roster. Just a gut feeling combined with the remarkable obp for a base stealer. Think about what you would have thought Friedl’s upside was before he put up a 4.4 war season.

    • MBS

      I like it. We just need to cross our fingers that a rebuilding team doesn’t select Acuna and burry him in their bullpen.

      Weighing in on the Stoudt, Roa debate from above. I think both of their futures are in the pen, and neither are likely to be key pieces. That doesn’t mean they can’t be valuable to the 24, or 25 team. They should both be in AAA starting until guys like Petty, Lowder, or Aguiar push them out. @BK, I know Stoudt finished the year in the pen, it doesn’t mean he’ll start this year in the pen. We clearly need SP depth, and our best guys are at least 1 level further down.

      • BK

        You’re right he could go back to the rotation. However, he threw 29 less innings in 2023 than he did in 2022–he spent just two weeks on the IL in both seasons. It’s was a curious move to pull him from the rotation AND reduce his innings if they view him as a starter. MiLB free agents can fill out the AAA rotation, too.

    • DW

      I think these are the right moves. I would hate to lose Acuna, but I don’t think he will be lost. I just can’t see a team drafting him and then keeping him on the roster all season. He will likely still be in the Reds organization.

  12. MK

    Just don’t know what in his performance background says Roa should be protected. If selected in the Rule V the money received it might be a best case scenario in his case.

    • 2020ball

      I just dont understand that logic at all. They had a spot open, he has ML stuff, is relatively young, and the money they’d get back is so small its not even worth mentioning. He’s not locked to the roster either, if they acquire someone better he’s easily DFA’d. why gripe other than to gripe?

      • BK

        First of all, MK has not ever been one to complain to have something to write. He’s making a valid point. Now that Roa is on the 40-man, if the Reds want to remove him, they must expose him to waivers. Any team can claim him and option him to the minors. Keeping a player on the 26-man roster as required by the Rule 5 draft is a much more difficult trick to pull off, especially in an era with more pitchers than ever before spending time on the IL. In short, there is risk to adding too many players to the 40-man, like there is risk to exposing players to the draft.

      • DaveCT

        Going for the hat trick …

        It isn’t that Roa’s not that good, its that he hasn’t developed.

        Yes, 330 career K’s in 270 innings. But 172 BB’s in those same 270 innings (5.7 per 9 ip) doesn’t even cry ML reliever, especially with 31 HR’s.

        In 2023, at AA and AAA, those numbers worsened to 91 BB’s in 120 innings, with 19 HR’s. Imagine that at GABP.

        To me, he’s a straight reliever and always has been. If they keep him at all, he’s a full-time move to the pen.

        I’ve also watched him a lot. He’s just not that impressive. Throws a TON of pitches, high effort, and serious control issues.

        Who knows, really. I obviously don’t — I said not to protect him.