The Cincinnati Reds are prepping their Goodyear, Ariz. practice facility for another season of spring training, and five non-roster invitees are looking to carve out their path to the team's 25-man roster.
In analyzing the team's depth chart and active roster, it becomes clear that there's only one spot where a non-roster invitee has a clear-cut path to roster inclusion. The team lacks a backup shortstop, and with no player on the 40-man roster ready to assume that responsibility, it looks as though one of the team's non-roster invitees will get the opportunity to win that role.
The position battle there will come down to the two infielders with the most big league experience: Ramon Santiago and Chris Nelson. After that, players will likely have to rely on injuries to others to make the active roster.
The positions most likely to see an injury this spring look to be the outfield and the starting rotation.
Heading into the 2014 season, there are some significant concerns surrounding Johnny Cueto and his long-term stability. On top of that, both Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos experienced soreness in their throwing arms by the end of the 2013 season.
Should one of these players go down, then Jeff Francis and Chien-Ming Wang are the two non-roster invitees with the best chance to secure a spot in the starting rotation.
In the outfield, Ryan Ludwick's health is a major question mark. Although he's almost a year removed from a devastating shoulder injury that cost him nearly the entire 2013 season, another injury to his shoulder could pave the way for Roger Bernadina to make the 25-man roster.
So, of these five players—Santiago, Nelson, Francis, Wang and Bernadina—which one has the best odds to make the 25-man roster as a non-roster invitee? Let's find out.