In 2020, Major League Baseball organizations are permitted an overall roster of up to 60 players from which they can draw throughout the season. The Reds currently have 54-56 players on their list.
Active rosters — the players who are eligible to play in that day’s game — have expanded this year from 26 to 30. The rosters were scheduled to increase in 2020 from 25, where they had been for decades, to 26 even before the COVID-19 pandemic. But as part of the special manual for the 2020 season negotiated by the owners and players that number was increased to 30 at the start of the season and scheduled to decrease to 28 and then to 26 in two week increments following Opening Day.
Last week, the two sides modified that agreement to keep the number at 28 through the rest of the season. In the Reds case, the players who aren’t on the active roster work out at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio.
News: The deadline for reducing the active roster from 30 to 28 was noon today. They chose P Tejay Antone and IF Josh VanMeter.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 6, 2020
Analysis: Josh VanMeter has struggled at the plate, to put it mildly. He doesn’t have a hit in 17 plate appearances. And VanMeter committed a horrible defensive play last night allowing a runner to score from second base on a ground ball to Freddy Galvis at shortstop. While VanMeter may deserve demotion on the merits, the case for keeping him with the major league club was based on the uncertain health of Mike Moustakas. Both are left-handed second basemen.
Tejay Antone was sent down not based on merit but due to roster rules. Antone has been superb in his two 2020 appearances, including his debut start last night.
But Antone could be demoted without risk of losing him while other candidates for Prasco were not. The Reds at the moment are reluctant to part with other pitchers, particularly ones they could lose to other organizations. Antone is unavailable to pitch for a few days. And they do have a starting rotation already. Antone was impressive. He’ll be back.
Here’s what complicated the math: Several of the Reds active roster pitchers are out of options, which means the team can’t take them off the active roster without subjecting them to waivers. Teams are given three years of options for each player by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Once a player is demoted in three separated years, he has “no options” left. When teams cut a player with no options remaining, they risk losing that player to another organization. Players who have options remaining can be sent down and retained. Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Lucas Sims and Brooks Raley are all out of options.
The Reds face further difficult choices in the near future with the possible returns of pitcher Wade Miley (eligible to return tomorrow) and Robert Stephenson.