The Reds make a number of squad moves


The Reds make a number of squad moves

The Reds announced a host of roster changes ahead of their series against the Blue Jays. First Base Player Joey Votto was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list. outfielder Aristides Aquinocorrect Graham Ashcraft and service providers Taylor Motter were all selected as designated COVID backup players for the majors.

Cincinnati seeded four players — Tyler Mahle, Albert Almora Jr., Joel Kuehnel and Brandon Drury — on the blocked list. This is standard procedure for players who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and play on teams traveling to Toronto. The Canadian government has banned unvaccinated players from entering the country, leaving Quartet unavailable for this weekend’s series.

Votto returns after missing more than two weeks due to virus concerns. The six-time All-Star began showing COVID symptoms in the first week of May and ended up missing enough time that the organization sent him on a brief minor league rehab stint. After two appearances with Triple-A Louisville, the Toronto native returns for a set against his hometown club. He will try to put the ship back in order offensively after the free time; Votto opened the season with a terrible .122/.278/.135 slump in 22 games.

Aquino, Motter, and Ashcraft all occupy temporary spots on the list. That the club have indicated they are COVID substitutes suggests it will likely be a short break for all three. Players whose contracts are selected with this designation may be removed from the 40-man roster and returned to the minors without going through waivers when the team returns to full strength. In the case of the Reds, that will be after this series, so Aquino, Motter, and Ashcraft are probably only up for three days.

The right-hitting Aquino opened the year in the majors but got off to a terrible start. He was dropped from the roster entirely earlier this month, but he has tattooed triple-A pitching (.314/.405/.743 with four homers) in ten games. Motter signed a minor league deal last month. The right-hitting utilityman hits .245/.344/.566 with Louisville, offering some multiposition depth in Drury’s place.

While this is a short stint for Ashcraft, the 24-year-old is likely to have a notable role in the squad soon. Selected in the sixth round by UAB in 2019, the 6’2″ Hurler has quickly become one of the better weapons in the farm system. Ashcraft split between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season, posting a 3.00 ERA in 111 innings. He’s spent this year with Louisville and has worked at a 1.65 ERA across seven starts, albeit without large strikeouts or walks.

Baseball America recently ranked Ashcraft the No. 12 Cincinnati organization and praised a mid-’90s cut fastball that serves as its primary offering. Both BA and FanGraphs – which ranked him 17th on the system – suggest Ashcraft’s underperforming change and erratic control point to a long-term bullpen future, but he’s remained a starter as a pro up to this point. Ashcraft needs to be included in the 40-man roster next offseason to keep him from Rule 5 draft selection, and potential last-place Reds trades could give him an expanded opportunity later this summer.

Cincinnati also announced this shortstop Jose Barrero will begin a rehab stint with the Bats. An expected regular shortstop for the club, he has not played this season after suffering a hamate injury during spring training. Position players can spend up to 20 days on rehab duties, suggesting Barrero will make his 2022 debut within the next three weeks, assuming all goes well with the minors.

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