3 takeaways from the transactions that leaves Tyler Stephenson as the Reds only catcher

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) smiles toward the home plate umpire.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) smiles toward the home plate umpire. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Cincinnati Reds made a flurry moves on Friday, and while many were probably expected, it now brings some questions to light.

The Reds outrighted Chuckie Robinson to Triple-A and Michael Papierski, Mark Kolozsvary, and Aramis Garcia were all claimed off waivers. With Austin Romine set to become a free agent in the offseason, Tyler Stephenson is effectively the only catcher on Cincinnati's 40-man roster.

The transactions themselves should not come as a shock, but the recent activity does put a focus-lens on the Reds' situation behind the plate. What three takeaways can be gleaned from these roster moves?

1. Tyler Stephenson will be the Reds starting catcher, not first baseman.

This seems a bit obvious, but there are those fans throughout Reds Country who want to see Tyler Stephenson abandon the tools of ignorance and become Cincinnati's starting first baseman. Stephenson saw extended time at first base during Joey Votto's month-long absence in 2021.

But the value that Stephenson provides as the team's starting catcher is just too great. While David Bell may very well give the young backstop some time as the team's designated hitter, there's little doubt that Stephenson's primary position will be catcher.

Stephenson brings an above-average bat and also threw out 27% of would-be runners in 2022. That's just not the type of production that can be duplicated by adding a run-of-mill free agent. The Reds also lack any serious candidates in the farm system to take over behind the plate at this time.

The sentiment behind moving Stephenson to first base is genuine, and it's not motivated by the desire to see Joey Votto tossed aside. It's more about the fact that Stephenson was roughed up behind the dish on several occasions last season. Stephenson made three separate trips to the IL, the last of which (broken collarbone) sidelined for over two months.

In order for Tyler Stephenson to take over at first base, two things have to happen. Joey Votto needs to retire and the Cincinnati Reds need to find a capable replacement for Stephenson behind the plate. Neither one should be expected next season, so fans should get used to seeing Stephenson hanging the signs in 2023.