Diving into the depths: Cincinnati Reds

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Cincinnati Reds
1. Aaron Harang
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Johnny Cueto
4. Homer Bailey
5. Micah Owings
6. Matt Maloney
7. Justin Lehr
8. Mike Lincoln
9. Aroldis Chapman
10. Travis Wood
11. Sam Lecure
12. Mike Leake
Edinson Volquez won’t be back from Tommy John surgery until midseason at the earlier and might not contribute at all this year.
I think Maloney’s a slightly better choice than Owings for the fifth spot, but the veteran will probably be the favorite going in. I’m guessing the Reds will add to the competition by signing one or two of the remaining free agent options. Noah Lowry would make sense.
1. Francisco Cordero
2. Nick Masset
3. Jared Burton
4. Arthur Rhodes
5. Daniel Ray Herrera
6. Carlos Fisher
7. Bill Bray
8. Micah Owings
9. Mike Lincoln
10. Pedro Viola
11. Enerio Del Rosario
12. Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette
13. Aroldis Chapman
14. Sean Watson
15. Jon Adkins
16. Logan Ondrusek
The bullpen is shaping up as a strength. Burton bounced back as last year went along, and Fisher’s ability to shut down right-handers makes him a nice complement to Rhodes and Herrera in the sixth and seventh innings.
Bray might open the year on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but the hope is that he’ll be ready to battle for a spot this spring.

1. Ramon Hernandez
2. Ryan Hanigan
3. Corky Miller
First base
1. Joey Votto
2. Ramon Hernandez
3. Yonder Alonso
Second base
1. Brandon Phillips
2. Aaron Miles
3. Drew Sutton
4. Miguel Cairo
5. Paul Janish
6. Todd Frazier
7. Chris Valaika
Third base
1. Scott Rolen
2. Juan Francisco
3. Aaron Miles
4. Drew Sutton
5. Miguel Cairo
6. Todd Frazier
1. Orlando Cabrera
2. Paul Janish
3. Chris Burke
4. Zack Cozart
The depth here is still pretty unimpressive, but maybe Alonso and Francisco will prove ready to step in if Votto and Rolen are forced to miss time again this year. Rolen, at least, seems very likely to serve a DL stint or two. Of course, both of those youngsters will start off in the minors, leaving the Reds with Miles and one from the group of Cairo, Sutton and Janish to occupy utility roles.
Left field
1. Chris Dickerson
2. Wladimir Balentien
3. Laynce Nix
4. Juan Francisco
5. Todd Frazier
Center field
1. Drew Stubbs
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Chris Heisey
4. Josh Anderson
Right field
1. Jay Bruce
2. Wladimir Balentien
3. Laynce Nix
The Reds made noises at the end of last season about forcing Bruce to compete for a job this spring. Since then, though, they’ve subtracted Jonny Gomes and Willy Taveras and added no one, unless Anderson counts. So, Bruce has nothing to worry about. A Dickerson/Balentien platoon could prove surprisingly effective, but it’s still possible the Reds will add more players to that mix. Considering that Francisco, Frazier and Heisey could all factor into the mix later, I think they’re OK sticking with what they have.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.