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Reds 2023 Long-Term Player Rankings

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Photo Credit: Spheroidite, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

(Updated: 6:16 p.m., 8/1/2020)

The 2023 MLB Trade Deadline is just a few hours away, and while it seems the Reds aren’t going to be making any Earth-shattering moves (you can breathe easy, Jonathan India fans), this is a great time to take stock of the roster as a whole. Who’s been making plays, and who hasn’t? Who’s living up to their contract, and who isn’t? And can we please find someone to start games instead of Luke Weaver?

After going through a season of abject misery in 2022, the Reds are enjoying a resurgence in 2023, and it’s in no small part thanks to the plethora of rookies making an immediate impact at the big-league level. Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Andrew Abbott, and of course, Elly De La Cruz have all helped spur what’s been the league’s most impressive turnaround. Much credit has to go to Reds general manager Nick Krall for identifying and developing so many difference-makers.

It should be no surprise then, that this year’s Long-Term Player Rankings looks a lot different than last year’s. In fact, no one from last year’s top tier returned to that same spot in 2023. What a difference a year makes, huh?

The goal of the Long-Term Player Rankings is to describe the Reds roster in terms of players who are going to be most important to the team’s success moving forward, taking into account performance, age, contract terms and length, and any other factors that might affect winning. This list is based off the current 40-man roster (as of 6:10 p.m. on 7/31), so don’t hate me if the Reds make a last-minute trade that screws up everything (don’t worry, I’ll update it if that happens). So, without further ado, please enjoy the 2023 Reds Long-Term Player Rankings!

At Least He Won’t Be Making $20 Million Next Year…

47. 1B/DH Joey Votto – 39 y/o

Votto is a national treasure, but let’s be honest, he’s not a plus ballplayer anymore. He’s probably not even an average ballplayer. But (and it’s a big but), his onerous contract comes off the books in the offseason. If he’s willing to accept a contract for near the veteran minimum, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to Cincinnati for another year. His contributions to this team go far beyond just the numbers. He’s basically a player-coach, and that’s a meaningful role for a team that has so many ludicrously talented young players.

Interchangeable & Forgettable

46. C Curt Casali – 34 y/o (10-Day IL)

45. OF/PR TJ Hopkins – 26 y/o (Minors)

44. OF Michael Siani – 24 y/o (Minors)

43. OF/PH Stuart Fairchild – 27 y/o (Minors)

None of these guys projects to be much of a difference-maker, in Cincinnati or elsewhere. Fairchild is probably best suited to a pinch-hitting role. Hopkins’s only appearance this season was as a pinch-runner. Siani hasn’t played in the majors at all, but he’s basically a Hopkins-clone. The Reds already appear done with Casali, and they’ve made their preference for Luke Maile known loud and clear.

Residents of “Who?”-Ville

42. RP Alan Busenitz – 32 y/o (Minors)

41. RP Daniel Duarte – 26 y/o (Minors)

40. SP Connor Overton – 30 y/o (15-Day IL)

39. SP Brett Kennedy – 28 y/o (Minors)

38. SP Luke Weaver – 29 y/o

None of these pitchers has much of a future in Cincinnati. Weaver has been the absolute worst starting pitcher for the Reds this season, and one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball, period. Kennedy, Busenitz, and Overton are older and ineffective. Duarte is still young, but he’s been the most unreliable arm in the Reds bullpen all season (and he was just sent to the minors to make room for deadline-addition Sam Moll). They brought him back in 2023 because they desperately needed bullpen help, and the Reds will almost certainly look elsewhere in the offseason.

The Young & Restless (and Unreliable)

37. RP Eduardo Salazar – 25 y/o (Minors)

36. SP/RP Vladimir Gutierrez – 25 y/o (60-Day IL)

35. SP/RP Reiver Sanmartin – 27 y/o (60-Day IL)

34. RP Casey Legumina – 26 y/o (15-Day IL)

33. SP Lyon Richardson – 23 y/o (Minors)

32. SP/RP Levi Stoudt – 25 y/o (Minors)

This group consists of one thing: young pitchers with almost no track record of sustained success. Most of these guys have spent the majority of 2023 in the minor leagues, while the rest have primarily been on the injured list. Maybe one or two become contributors in the bigs (likely as a reliever), but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Update: The Reds' BIG Deadline Addition

31.RP Sam Moll – 31 y/o

Introducing, the next jersey in your closet...okay, maybe Sam Moll isn't all that much to get excited about (especially if you convinced yourself the Reds were about to land Justin Verlander), but the former Oakland Athletics lefty with a 4.50 ERA fills a giant need in the bullpen.

The Expendables

30. INF Kevin Newman – 29 y/o

29. SS/CF Jose Barrero – 25 y/o (Minors)

28. 3B/OF Nick Senzel – 28 y/o

27. C Luke Maile – 32 y/o

There’s some buzz around Maile that the Reds might be looking to bring the veteran catcher back in 2024, but for the most part, these guys are role players. Senzel has finally stayed healthy and is rounding into form as a versatile defender who crushes lefties. He might not ever live up to his prospect hype, but he’s turned himself into an effective ballplayer. Newman is versatile too, but he’s older. He probably doesn’t have a future with the Reds unless he’s willing to take a veteran minimum deal. Barrero is a bit of a wild card. He’s still young, but he’s been awful so far in the major leagues. He continues to show good hitting ability in AAA, and he’s a good athlete with a cannon for an arm so there’s still a chance he could put it all together, but at worst, he’s a somewhat valuable trade asset.

Too Injury Prone to Get Excited

26. SP/RP Justin Dunn – 27 y/o (60-Day IL)

25. RP Tejay Antone – 29 y/o (60-Day IL)

24. RP Tony Santillan – 26 y/o

This is the same exact group from last year! Call me a pessimist, but my expectations are Marianas Trench low. Sure, Antone and Santillan have decent statistics at the MLB level but given their spotty (at best) track record at staying healthy, I have my doubts that they’ll ever become impact players for this team. And by the way, has anyone seen or heard from Dunn in two years? He was supposed to be a big part of the Jesse Winker/Eugenio Suarez trade, and he’s basically been AWOL ever since. At least Brandon Williamson is showing signs of life…

Scare Me Shitless, but (Mostly) Get the Job Done

23. RP Fernando Cruz – 33 y/o

22. SP Ben Lively – 31 y/o

21. RP Ian Gibaut – 29 y/o

It’s never pretty when they enter the game, but for the most part, they get the job done. Gibaut has been a revelation in 2023, ranking amongst the National League’s leaders in wins. I don’t know if he has some handshake agreement with the offense to always get the lead back after he gives it up, but good job by him anyway. Lively, who returned to the States after a stint in Korea, has been exceptional as a back-of-the-rotation starter. Cruz may be 33 years old, but when he has that split-finger fastball working he’s as tough to hit as any pitcher on this team.

The Makings of an Above-Average Bullpen

20. RP Derek Law – 32 y/o

19. RP Buck Farmer – 32 y/o

18. RP Alex Young – 29 y/o

17. RP Lucas Sims – 29 y/o

It’s pretty incredible that the Reds have had so much success in 2023, especially considering that heading into the season, their bullpen was filled with (essentially) complete unknowns. Today, that looks a lot different. Sims has settled into his role as the team’s top set-up man. Young has been very good against lefties, and Farmer and Law have been reliable, middle-relief arms. There are a lot of contributors to the Reds' surprising season, but arguably none have had less fanfare than this bullpen. Kudos to them.

Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves

16. OF Jake Fraley – 28 y/o

15. OF TJ Friedl – 27 y/o

Don’t get me wrong, I like both of these guys, but something tells me one of them probably isn’t around for the long haul. My guess is Fraley leaves, probably by trade, but maybe as a free agent. He’s got some power and contact hitting ability, but the Reds could really use a reliable, true power bat in the middle of the order. Finding someone to fill that role in right field (where Fraley plays) would be a lot easier than finding that player in center field (where Friedl plays). Plus, who doesn't love Friedl's drag bunts?

What Do We Do with Them?

14. C Tyler Stephenson – 26 y/o

13. 2B Jonathan India – 26 y/o

Two years ago, imagining a future without India and Stephenson seemed impossible – insane even. Today? Not so much. Neither player has been able to recapture the same level of performance from their rookie seasons, and newcomers have made them somewhat expendable. They’re both still young (which is good) and under team control into the near future (also good), but they both need to improve to justify their everyday spots, especially with so many promising youngsters coming out of the minor league pipeline.

I Love Surprises!

12. SP Brandon Williamson – 25 y/o

11. RP Alexis Diaz – 26 y/o

10. 1B/3B Spencer Steer – 25 y/o

Each of these guys had modest expectations coming into the season, and so far, they’ve exceeded all of them. Diaz is the most heralded of the group, and he had an excellent 2022 season, but he’s blossomed into one of the best closers in the game. There are still questions over whether it’s smart for a small-market team like the Reds to invest so heavily into a closer, but for now, he’s an absolute hammer in the bullpen. Williamson and Steer were both 2022 arrivals, and they’ve become integral parts of the Reds success in 2023. Williamson has steadily improved to the point he’s arguably the most consistent starter outside of Andrew Abbott and Graham Ashcraft, and Steer has combined timely hitting with defensive versatility to become a key component of an always-dangerous Reds lineup.

Oozing Potential

9. OF Will Benson – 25 y/o

8. SS/3B Noelvi Marte – 21 y/o (Minors)

7. 1B/3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand – 23 y/o

These three are part of the next wave of impact hitters for the Cincinnati Reds. Encarnacion-Strand has already demonstrated the prodigious power in the bigs that made minor league pitchers wet their pants. Marte has continued to rake as he’s climbed from AA to AAA, and we might even get to see him in September. Benson might be the biggest surprise of the season, as he took an early demotion to AAA to heart and responded by becoming one of the best hitters in baseball since his return.

Makes Me Wonder-Boys

6. SP Nick Lodolo – 25 y/o (60-Day IL)

5. SP Graham Ashcraft 25 y/o

4. SP Hunter Greene – 23 y/o (60-Day IL)

Each of these guys has shown incredible potential at the MLB level, and they all do it in distinct ways. Greene can overpower you, Lodolo can make you look silly, and Ashcraft will somehow prevent anyone from barreling a baseball all day. Still, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Greene and Lodolo have struggled staying healthy, and when Ashcraft isn’t locating his pitches, he gets rocked.

Cream of the Crop

3. SS/2B Matt McLain – 23 y/o

2. SP Andrew Abbott – 24 y/o

1. SS/3B Elly De La Cruz – 21 y/o

Modern philosopher Macho Man Randy Savage once said, “The cream will rise to the top.” He was talking about himself, of course, but it turns out he was also predicting the rise of Andrew Abbott, Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz. Take a step back and consider how incredible it is that all three of these guys have turned into stars. De La Cruz was an afterthought international free agent who sprouted six inches. Abbott was in AA to begin this season. McLain still looks like he can't get on most rollercoasters. But somehow, someway, they put it together. Now, the Reds look stronger than they have in arguably the last 30 years – and maybe not since the dawn of the Big Red Machine. Man, what a time to be a sports fan in Cincinnati…

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