The other change is at third base, where Todd Frazier gets the job full-time for Scott Rolen, who decided not to return for another season.
Frazier filled in at third base and at first base when Rolen and Joey Votto were hurt, and ended up third in NL Rookie of the Year voting after batting .273 with 19 homers and 67 RBI.
Cincinnati thinks the offense will be even better with a healthy Votto around from the start of the season. The former NL MVP tore cartilage in his left knee while sliding into base on June 29 and needed two operations. Votto was gone for 48 games and wasn't himself when he returned, reduced to hitting singles the rest of the season because of the weak knee.
During spring training, he hit his first homers since June 24, an indication his knee is fully healed.
Votto's first significant injury has given him a different outlook.
"People's injuries resonate with me more because of my experience," he said. "It probably made me a better teammate."
The Reds got through last season with all five starters healthy and were the only team in the majors that used as few as six starters - they had to call one up for a doubleheader. The streak of good luck ended when Johnny Cueto pulled muscles in his side during the first inning of the opening playoff game in San Francisco, leaving Cincinnati's pitching plans in flux for the rest of the series.
Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake each made 30 starts last season. Bailey in particular showed improvement, throwing a no-hitter in Pittsburgh. All are back and healthy.
The Reds' biggest decision in spring training involved the closer's spot. The Reds got hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman ready to make a long-awaited transition to the rotation, with Jonathan Broxton available to finish off games, but the left-hander expressed a preference to keep closing.
Chapman had 38 saves after moving into the role in May, converting a club-record 27 in a row even though he'd never been a closer. He'll have a better feel for the role this season.
"I have a lot of years ahead," Chapman said. "I'm happy to be the closer now."
Baker got a two-year contract extension after missing the Reds' division championship celebration last year because he was hospitalized for treatment of an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. The 63-year-old manager feels fine and shares the big expectations for this season and beyond.
"I talked to the owners," Baker said. "They asked a lot of questions and made statements. They're enthusiastic about our progress.
"We've come a long way in a short period of time, over three years. It's about being able to sustain high excellence."
And it's about taking that next step deeper into the playoffs.