by Matt Wilkes

Reds send Mark Payton back to A’s, announce more roster decisions

Reds manager David Bell announced a series of roster decisions ahead of Tuesday night’s exhibition game against the Tigers.

Outfielder Mark Payton, a Rule 5 pick, was returned to the Oakland Athletics. Payton would’ve had to stay on the active roster for the entire season for the Reds to retain him. With the surplus of outfielders, he just didn’t fit into the equation.

Additionally, Travis Jankowski, Josh VanMeter, Kyle Farmer, and Cody Reed were told they’ve made the team.

Jankowski is the only remotely surprising name here. The outfielder was likely signed to be organizational depth, but the new extra innings rule for the 2020 season — in which a runner will start on second base in each half inning — gives the speedy Jankowski more value. In 2018, Jankowski had an average sprint speed of 29.0 feet per second, well above league average (27.0). Last year, however, he dropped to 27.4 ft/s. That can sometimes be explained by a leg injury, and while Jankowski did miss time with a fractured wrist, no leg injuries were documented. More than likely, it’s explained by a small sample size; Jankowski had only 11 “competitive runs” and 24 plate appearances in the majors last season. Evidently, the Reds are satisfied with what they’ve seen in camp.

Aside from pinch running, Jankowski’s likely role will be a defensive replacement. Given that he’s a weak hitter (career 78 wRC+), it’s hard to see him breaking into the starting lineup much.

VanMeter and Farmer will serve as the do-everything bench pieces. VanMeter plays every infield position except shortstop as well as left field, while Farmer plays every infield position in addition to catcher. Farmer currently stands to be the backup shortstop, which David Kelley wrote about back in the winter.

Reed was out of options and has to be on the active roster; otherwise, the Reds have to designate him for assignment. With Amir Garrett (and now Brooks Raley) being the only other lefties in the bullpen, Reed was close to a lock to make the team. Although he missed most of the 2019 season with a knee injury, he continued to impress in April and May after making improvements in 2018. He carried a 1.42 ERA (1.85 xERA, 2.42 xFIP) and 28.0% strikeout rate in 6.1 big-league innings, along with a 2.61 ERA (3.31 xFIP) and 31.3% strikeout rate in 20.2 minor-league innings. Control is still the biggest issue with Reed, but the Reds are rightfully not ready to give up on his talent.

The Opening Day roster is not quite set. Here are the 29 players who we know have likely made the team so far:

Position Players (14)

  • Tucker Barnhart
  • Curt Casali
  • Kyle Farmer
  • Joey Votto
  • Mike Moustakas
  • Freddy Galvis
  • Eugenio Suarez
  • Jesse Winker
  • Shogo Akiyama
  • Nick Senzel
  • Nick Castellanos
  • Phillip Ervin
  • Josh VanMeter
  • Travis Jankowski

Starting Rotation (5)

  • Sonny Gray
  • Luis Castillo
  • Trevor Bauer
  • Wade Miley
  • Anthony DeSclafani

Bullpen (10)

  • Raisel Iglesias
  • Michael Lorenzen
  • Amir Garrett
  • Robert Stephenson
  • Nate Jones
  • Tyler Mahle
  • Lucas Sims
  • Pedro Strop
  • Brooks Raley
  • Cody Reed

Bell has stated that the team will carry at least as many position players as pitchers. If they carry 15 of each, that means one more position player will be added.

The players still on the bubble include:

  • 1B/3B Matt Davidson
  • 2B/SS/3B Alex Blandino
  • RHP Jose De Leon
  • RHP David Carpenter
  • RHP Sal Romano
  • C Francisco Pena
  • 2B/SS/3B Christian Colon
  • RHP Tejay Antone
  • RHP Ryan Hendrix

Sending Payton back to the A’s makes room for Nate Jones on the 40-man roster. The Reds would need to make additional 40-man moves for Davidson, Carpenter, Romano, Pena, or Colon.

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.


  • Brian Van Hook

    Well, shucks, I was hoping for Payton over Jankowski.

    Has Carpenter pitched well enough to bump somebody off the 40-man roster? I’m assuming Romano is already a no-go.

    Pena is not needed, when Farmer can be the third catcher.

    If Davidson makes it, I wonder who gets bumped off the 40-man. … I had also kinda expected either Blandino or Colon to make it. Now, maybe neither one?

    • Matt Wilkes

      Carpenter has pitched well. I’ve been impressed with him in the scrimmages. Has he thrown well enough to make the roster? Not sure. The Reds probably wouldn’t mind having another long reliever like Antone or De Leon.