The Reds have 22-million reasons Tyler Stephenson will not be moved to first base in 2023

Cincinnati Reds Tyler Stephenson
Cincinnati Reds Tyler Stephenson / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

Tyler Stephenson suffered a broken clavicle during Friday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. This injury will likely keep the 25-year-old out of action for several weeks and possibly the remainder of the season.

Several fans have advocated for Stephenson to give up catching and become the Cincinnati Reds first baseman. Of course this comes with the idea that Joey Votto should spend his final year in a Reds uniform as the team's designated hitter.

There are a lot of flaws with this idea, though the premise is understandable. Setting up behind the plate is a dangerous job and Reds fans don't want to see one of their best hitters missing time due to injury.

While first and foremost Cincinnati would need to find a suitable replacement for Stephenson behind the plate, there's yet another obstacle for the Reds and that is current DH Mike Moustakas and his massive 2023 salary.

Mike Moustakas is yet another reason the Reds will not move Tyler Stephenson to first base in 2023.

Mike Moustakas will go down in Reds lore as one of the worst free agent signings in franchise history. Desperate to fill the void left by Scooter Gennett following the 2019 season, the Cincinnati Reds inked Moose to a four-year/$64M deal and thought it would be a good idea for him to occupy the keystone.

This turned out to be a big mistake. Jonathan India is now firmly entrenched as the Reds starting second baseman and Moustakas has proven to not only lag behind with his bat, but with his glove as well. Moustakas is little more than a left-handed power-bat that might run into one every so often.

Unfortunately, the Reds are on the hook for his $18M salary in 2023 and the $4M buyout that comes along with not picking up his $20M team-option in 2024. Essentially, whenever Cincinnati decides to move on from Moose, it's going to cost them $22M.

Though Cincinnati released Shogo Akiyama this past spring and ate his $8M salary for the 2022 season, I highly doubt we'll see this ownership group be as apt to swallow Moustakas' 2023 salary. As it stands right now, I expect to see Mike Moustakas on the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Opening Day roster.

If Moose is still around, he'll be the Reds DH next season. That'll keep Joey Votto at first base during his farewell tour and Tyler Stephenson behind the dish as Cincinnati's starting backstop.

Forget the idea of who would replace Stephenson behind the plate next season, the bigger issue might be the money owed to Moustakas. It's hard to see the Cincinnati Reds taking a $22M hit without having that player on the roster. Sorry, Reds Country.

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