2 contract extensions the Reds should make soon and 1 they should avoid

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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In recent years, it's been the norm to see teams and players come together prior to the start of a season and agree to terms on a new contract. For the Cincinnati Reds, the most recent such transaction was with Eugenio Suarez back in 2018.

Suarez had just lost his arbitration case against the Reds, but the two sides were still able to work out a deal that paid the former third baseman $66M over seven years. Geno was traded to the Seattle Mariners last spring after two sub-par performances but had a nice bounce-back year for the M's.

Heading into spring training, the Reds have no players under contract beyond the upcoming season. It's a perfect time for the Reds' brass to determine which young players the club hopes to buil around for 2024 and beyond. Which two players should be under consideration for a contract extension this spring and who should be put on hold?

Reds should sign Tyler Stephenson to a contract extension soon.

Let's begin with the most obvious. Tyler Stephenson, who suffered three separate freak injuries last season, should be atop the list when it comes to which players within the Cincinnati Reds organization should receive a contract extension. When healthy, Stephenson is among the best hitting catchers in the league.

Now, here's where the difficulty comes in when talking about a contract extension with Stephenson. Is he really a catcher? Stephenson would tell you that he is, but by adding two catchers to the 40-man roster this offseason, the Reds would seem to have their doubts.

By adding Curt Casali and Luke Maile, Cincinnati sent a loud message to Stephenson that his primary role with the club in 2023 might not be behind the plate. Both Nick Krall and David Bell have already talked about Stephenson seeing more time as the team's DH and at first base.

Regardless of where Stephenson lines up defensively, it's obvious that the Reds value his bat and are efforting ways to keep him in the lineup. With Joey Votto in the final year of his contract, many Reds fans would love to see Stephenson take over at first base once the future Hall of Famer is gone.

So, while the Cincinnati Reds might run into problems determining the value of potential contract extension due to the position he plays, it's clear that Tyler Stephenson should be the primary target when it comes to negotiating a new deal. Stephenson will be arbitration eligible for the first time following the 2023 season.