3 free agent catchers the Reds could sign this offseason to add depth to the roster

While Reds fans think the roster is set with just two catchers, injuries happen.

Colorado Rockies catcher Austin Wynns
Colorado Rockies catcher Austin Wynns / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages
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Are you sure the Cincinnati Reds aren't going to add another catcher this offseason? While it's assumed that Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile will be the tandem hanging the signs behind the plate, Reds fans thought the team had enough infielders until a week ago.

Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall seems to zig when everyone else is zagging. Krall stockpiled shortstops in the minor leagues for the better part of two years, and now Noelvi Marte, Matt McLain, and Elly De La Cruz look to be key fixtures in the Reds lineup moving forward.

So while it may seem a little odd to even be discussing the catcher market while so many fans throughout Reds Country are looking to see when Cincinnati will sign a starting pitcher, who could be available on the open market.

1. Reds could sign free agent catcher Chuckie Robinson

Let's start with the most obvious one to begin with, shall we? The Cincinnati Reds allowed Chuckie Robinson to enter free agency this winter. After spending some time with the big league club in 2022, Robinson spent his entire 2023 campaign at Triple-A Louisville.

Robinson is an athletic backstop who is able to hold his own defensively and also showed plenty of pop in the minor leagues last season. After receiving a cup of coffee with the Redlegs a year ago, Robinson added some power his repertoire.

Last season with the Louisville Bats, Robinson kept his strikeout-rate below 20-percent while also slashing .290/.356/.450 with 13 home runs and 74 RBI. Robinson also exhibited a little bit of speed on the base paths and tallied seven stolen bases.

Chuckie Robinson was originally drafted by the Houston Astros, but came to Cincinnati in the minor league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft. Currently a free agent, the Reds could reach out to Robinson in hopes of brining him back into the fold. Would a minor league contract get the job done, or will Robinson be looking for a big league deal this time?

2. Reds could sign free agent catcher Austin Wynns

Austin Wynns bounced around a lot in 2023. The San Francisco Giants designated Wynns for assignment shortly after the new year began. The Giants needed to make room for newly signed outfielder Michael Conforto, and Wynns was DFA'd.

The catcher then latched on with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but after five games, Wynns was relieved of his duties. Finally, the veteran landed with the Colorado Rockies. After appearing in just 45 games this past season, Wynns was outrighted following the season and chose free agency.

Wynns is a glove-first catcher. Throughout his major league career, Wynn has hit just .226. But with Tyler Stephenson's below-average defense, perhaps the Reds would be interested in adding some insurance this offseason.

According to Baseball Savant, Wynn was one of the best when it came to throwing out runners at second base. The same cannot be said for Stephenson whose defensive ratings, by almost every metric, were below-average.

The only issue is that Austin Wynns no longer has any minor league options remaining. If the Reds inked the 33-year-old to a major league contract, he'd have to pass through waivers and accept an assignment at Triple-A Louisville if he didn't break onto the Opening Day roster.

The Cincinnati Reds are lacking catching depth throughout their minor league system. In addition to Chuckie Robinson, the Reds also lost Johnny Pererda this past offseason. Adding a veteran backstop like Wynns would bolster the team's depth and experience in the minors.

3. Reds could sign free agent catcher Tucker Barnhart

There are several Reds fans who would absolutely love the idea of a reunion with Tucker Barnhart. However, this isn't the same catcher who won two Gold Glove Awards. While known more for his glove than his bat, both have let Barnhart down the past few seasons.

Barnhart spent the best years of his career hanging the signs for the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff. However, rather than pick up his option for the 2022 season, the Reds traded Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers.

Last offseason, Barnhart signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Cubs. Things couldn't have gone more off course for the veteran backstop last season and Barnhart was actually DFA'd and eventually released by the Cubs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers picked Barnhart up and signed him to a minor league deal. However, Barnhart never made it back to The Show in 2023 and entered free agency this offseason.

There would be several benefits to signing Tucker Barnhart, with the first being his familiarity with the team. While most of the faces are new, Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India, and David Bell are still in the clubhouse.

Barnhart is also a left-handed hitting catcher. Seeing as how Bell loves to play the matchups, having a left-handed swinging backstop would add even more versatility to the Cincinnati Reds roster.

While most Reds fans are going to scoff at the idea of adding another catcher to the roster. Cincinnati is one injury away from having to panic and sign a catcher off the scrap heap. After entering last season with three catchers, it seems likely that Nick Krall will add at least one more this offseason.