Carrying 3 catchers in 2023 may greatly reduce this Reds player's contributions
It seems as though the Cincinnati Reds will carry three catchers on the 26-man roster heading into the 2023 season. This winter, the Reds added University of Kentucky product Luke Maile and former catcher Curt Casali. Tyler Stephenson is expected to be ready for spring training as well.
But the Reds will utilize Stephenson a little differently during the upcoming season. After getting battered and bruised in 2022 and spending three stints on the IL, Cincinnati seems more willing than ever to protect Stephenson from spending so much time hanging the signs behind the plate.
Reds manager David Bell expects Stephenson to suit up for 140-150 games, some of which will be as the team's designated hitter. Bell also believes that Stephenson will see some time at first as well. This is great news for the Reds fanbase who want to see the catcher stay off the injured list, but it may not be the best of news for one Stephenson's teammates.
Carrying 3 catchers in 2023 may greatly reduce Stuart Fairchild's contributions.
One of the players who made some noise over the final few months of last season was former second-round pick Stuart Fairchild. After bouncing between Seattle and San Francisco last season, Fairchild returned to Cincinnati and found some playing time toward the end of the 2022 season.
Fairchild showed why he was selected so high during the 2017 MLB Draft. The right-handed hitting outfielder has a nice combination of power and speed, plus the defensive versatility to play all three outfield spots.
But one has to believe that Fairchild is behind both Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl on the depth chart. The Reds also signed Wil Myers to fill the void in right field. Cincinnati also swung a trade this offseason for Nick Solak, who's expected to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
If it's assumed that the Cincinnati Reds will carry thee catchers, Myers, Fraley, Friedl, Joey Votto, Jonathan India, Spencer Steer, Jose Barrero, and Kevin Newman on the Opening Day roster, the battle for the final two spots will come down to the trio of Nick Senzel, Solak, and Farichild.
Bell is going to have to get creative in order to squeeze 13 position players onto the Opening Day roster, and unfortunately, it may be Fairchild who's left out in the cold. The 26-year-old still has minor league options remaining, so fans should expect him to remain with the team throughout the 2023 season.