3 free agents, not named Tucker Barnhart, that could back up Reds' catcher Tyler Stephenson in 2023

Seattle Mariners catcher Curt Casali.
Seattle Mariners catcher Curt Casali. / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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2. The Reds could go after Guardians' catcher Austin Hedges.

Another veteran catcher, not named Tucker Barnhart, who'll be a free agent this offseason is Cleveland Guardians' backstop Austin Hedges. Fresh off an American League Central Division Championship, Hedges abilities could be highly coveted during the offseason.

Hedges, much like Austin Romine, is more revered for his ability to work with the pitching staff than his abilities at the plate. Hedges hit just .163/.241/.248 in 2022. However, with the addition of the designated hitter to the National League, managers are able to stomach a light-hitting catcher so long as he brings other attributes to the table.

Hedges appeared in 105 games for Cleveland in 2022; the most he's played in a season since 2107 with the San Diego Padres. The 30-year-old signed a one-year/$4M contract with the Guardians last season, so you'd have to imagine that he'd be looking for a similar deal in 2023.

Given that the Cincinnati Reds only have the combined $43M salary of Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas on the books for next season, the club has more than enough funds available in order to sign Hedges in free agency.

The Cleveland Guardians were the youngest team in baseball this past season, and Austin Hedges worked with young pitchers like Triston McKenzie, Shane Bieber, and Cal Quantril. The Guardians had the fourth-lowest ERA among AL clubs in 2022, and some of that success has to be attributed to Hedges' handling of the young pitching staff.