The Cincinnati Reds have a very difficult decision this offseason. Will the team exercise Tucker Barnhart’s team-option? Mark Kolozsvary‘s performance may greatly impact that decision. Kolozsvary’s contract was selected by the Reds this afternoon after the team placed Tyler Stephenson on the injured list.
As of now, there’s no designation as to why Stephenson is on the IL and no timeframe was given. Could it be related to COVID-19 testing, perhaps? Regardless of the reasons why Stephenson in on the injured list, Mark Kolozsvary will now be Tucker Barnhart’s backup, and may very well be his replacement next season.
Cincinnati holds a $7.5M team-option on Barnhart for the 2022 season. With how well Stephenson has performed in 2021, you have to assume the Reds will want to give the lion’s share of starts in 2022 to the 25-year-old.
Barnhart has been a spectacular defensive catcher for years. In fact, that’s what landed Barnhart his contract extension. Kolozsvary is already 26 years old. The former seventh-round pick, much like Barnhart, is a defense-first catcher.
Will Mark Kolozsvary serve as the Reds backup catcher in 2022?
Mark Kolozsvary was part of Team USA during their run in the Tokyo Olympics and had put together a fine offensive season at Double-A Chattanooga. The right-handed batting Kolozsvary hit .233/.341/.438 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.
Since his promotion to Triple-A Louisville, Kolozsvary has struggled to catch up. The former Florida Gator was hitting .174/.283/.326 with the Bats, but only had seen action in 15 games, including 12 starts behind the plate.
Kolozsvary has above-average arm strength and gunned down 10-of-30 stolen base attempts this season while starting 36 games for the Chattanooga Lookouts. According to MLB Pipeline, coaches and scouts rave about how well Kolozsvary calls a game and handles the pitching staff.
Mark Kolozsvary is a backup catcher in every sense of the word. While he can handle duties behind the plate, in no way would the Cincinnati Reds go into a season with Kolozsvary as the everyday backstop.
But the Reds don’t need an everyday backstop. They have that in Tyler Stephenson. This was always assumed to be a bridge-year from Barnhart to Stephenson. The Reds rookie has shown that he has what it takes to get the job done, and Kolozsvary may well be the Redlegs backup catcher in 2022.