The Reds made a handful of transactions this afternoon, placing outfielder Stuart Fairchild on the COVID-19 injured list while transferring left-hander Alex Young to the COVID IL. Players on the COVID IL do not count against the 40-man roster, allowing the club to add infielder Alejo Lopez to the big league roster from Triple-A as a replacement player. As a replacement, Lopez can be taken off the 40-man roster and returned to the minors without being placed on waivers.
The news serves as a continuation of Cincinnati’s injury woes, with sixteen players now on the injured list. Fairchild, 27, is in his third season as a big leaguer and has looked like a decent fourth outfielder in 242 trips to the plate with a .223/.322/.379 with a wRC+ of 87, ten stolen bases, and solid outfield defense. Young, meanwhile, posted a 3.31 ERA in 49 innings of work for the Reds this year before going on the injured list with a hamstring issue back in August. He had just begun a rehab assignment earlier this week but now will surely be delayed in his comeback attempt.
Joining the roster for the time being is Lopez, who appeared in 59 games for Cincinnati last season, slashing .262/.314/.331 while playing second base, third base, and the outfield corners. While Lopez is hardly an impact bat, a 13.5% strikeout rate in the majors last year indicates he could provide contact off the bench, and his walk rate at Triple-A this year has ballooned to a career-high 13.4%. If that improved discipline can carry over to the majors and earn him extra free passes at the big league level, it’s possible that Lopez could be an interesting contributor for a Cincinnati infield that is currently without Matt McLain, Jonathan India, and Joey Votto.
That being said, Lopez’s stay on the active roster may be a short one, as Reds manager David Bell indicated to reporters (including those at MLB.com) yesterday that both Votto and India have begun rehab assignments and Triple-A and could be nearing a return to action, with Votto in particular a potential option as soon as tomorrow’s game against the Cardinals. Also likely to return tomorrow is right-hander Hunter Greene, who is currently on the COVID IL but is listed as tomorrow’s probable starter opposite St. Louis righty Miles Mikolas.