Reds have about 6-7 weeks to decide what to do with the 40-man. Seems to me that in recent years, the importance of 40-man decisions has shifted a bit. It used to be that you needed to protect the correct guys for one reason: to keep someone else from selecting someone in the Rule V that you wanted to keep. But in recent years, the trend has been that players in the minor leagues who are on the 40-man are almost certainly going to be the first mid-season callups to avoid having to DFA someone. So those decisions become crucial for multiple reasons.
First of all, how many spots will be open? Conservatively, I will say five. You have three free agents (Hernandez, Renteria, Willis), one player that will almost certainly be non-tendered (Burton), and one player who could be outrighted (Negron). Who takes the five spots?
I will say there are three locks: Phipps, Lotzkar, and Soto. Henry Rodriguez would be a strong fourth choice that I would think would be highly likely. The fifth guy, I am not sure about. I would say, right now, that my guess is Pedro Villarreal. Other candidates could be: Webb, Puckett, possibly Gil, and less likely, Rojas, Ravin, Shunick, Buchholz. The dark horse candidate: Howell. He is a better prospect than some of the guys on the list, but because he missed a year and a half on the mission, he has not pitched above low-A. Unlikely someone would take him in the Rule V.
I could be missing someone.
Of course, the five openings is a number that could be off by a couple, either way.