The latest installment of the MLB.com Reds Spring Training preview is a favorite parlor game among fans and media: Predicting the 25-man roster for Opening Day. There will likely be multiple twists and turns along the way, but here's the first educated guess.
Catcher (2): Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali
After flirting with trading for All-Star J.T. Realmuto, the Reds will bring back Barnhart, who could be under club control through 2022. He won a Gold Glove in 2017 but saw some of his defensive numbers dip last season. In Casali, Cincinnati has a capable backup who calls games well and provides some offense.
First base (1): Joey Votto
"Offensively was just so bad for me last year. It wasn't fun," Votto said about his 2018 performance. This, despite him having an .837 OPS. But after batting .284 with a surprisingly low 12 homers, and now 35 years old, Votto is very motivated to produce at a level that he's used to again in 2019.
Second base (1): Scooter Gennett
Following two career years, and set to become a free agent after the 2019 season, does Gennett have one more big year in him for Cincinnati? The answer is literally worth millions.
Third base (1): Eugenio Suarez
A first-time All-Star in '18, Suarez seems poised for superstardom as his offensive numbers continue to trend upward.
Shortstop (1): Jose Peraza
Peraza came into his own as a hitter last season and was one of the hardest hitters in baseball to strikeout. He still needs to improve defensively.
Outfield (5): Jesse Winker, Yasiel Puig, Scott Schebler, Matt Kemp, Phillip Ervin
This is the toughest area of the team to predict. Senzel, the organization's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will try to keep learning center field and win the regular job at the same time. Puig and Schebler -- both traditionally corner outfielders -- have experience in center field also. Finding playing time for Kemp could be a challenge here. With no DH added to the National League in 2019, Kemp will have limited places to play regularly and that could make him a trade chip for clubs in need of an outfielder near the end of camp.
Utility (2): Senzel, Alex Blandino
Senzel, the No. 6 overall prospect in baseball, will spend Spring Training trying to learn center field and go for the regular spot there. But second and third base are his natural spots and serving as the utility man would enable him to play regularly in different positions. Blandino will have to show he's all the way back from a torn ACL that he sustained last July.
Starting pitchers (5): RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Luis Castillo, RHP Tanner Roark, RHP Anthony DeSclafani
The biggest overhaul of the Reds' offseason happened here with Gray, Wood and Roark coming over in trades. The only question mark is the fifth spot, but DeSclafani has the inside track if he can rebound from a rough 2018.
Relief pitchers (7): RHP Raisel Iglesias, RHP Jared Hughes, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Michael Lorenzen, LHP Zach Duke, LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Sal Romano
The name of the game will be flexibility and the ability to work multiple innings. Expect Reds manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson to get creative in figuring how to get outs.
Here's a quick review of the first projection of Cincinnati's 25-man roster when the Reds open the 2019 regular season vs. the Pirates on March 28 at Great American Ball Park: