3 ways Christian Encarnacion-Strand can make the Reds Opening Day roster

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand.
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand. / Sam Greene / USA TODAY NETWORK
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2. Christian Encarnacion-Strand can make the Reds Opening Day roster if the team carries just 2 catchers.

This seems highly unlikely as all offseason the Cincinnati Reds have had the intent of carrying three catchers into the regular season. And can you blame them? Last season saw Cincinnati use seven different backstops.

Heading into 2023, the Reds plan to play Tyler Stephenson behind the plate for about 65 games while splitting his remaining starts between first base and DH. The former first-round pick has his own first baseman's glove, so this seems like it's happening.

The goal is to keep Stephenson on the field. As one of the team's best hitters, Cincinnati cannot afford to have Stephenson play in just 50 games like he did during his sophomore campaign. While his best spot is unquestionably behind the plate, Stephenson can't make an impact on the game from the trainer's room.

But, if the Cincinnati Reds decided to abandon their three-catcher plan for 2023, Stephenson and Curt Casali could split time at catcher while Christian Encarnacion-Strand took over at first base. Once Joey Votto returned, the infield prospect could then split designated hitter duty with the former MVP.

Again, this is the most unlikely scenario, but it could be explored as the season progresses. Luke Maile would be the casualty in this instance, and that just doesn't seem very plausible heading into Opening Day.