The plan for Tyler Stephenson suggests 2023 is Joey Votto's last season with the Reds
By Drew Koch
According to Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds manager David Bell has every game planned out for Tyler Stephenson's 2023 season.
Bell said that Stephenson will set up behind the plate four times every 10 days. During that 10 day span, Stephenson will also get time at first base and be the team's designated hitter.
This isn't necessarily new information. Reds fans knew, as soon as the team signed Luke Maile and Curt Casali, that Stephenson wasn't going to be the team's primary catcher. But this little nugget gives the fanbase even more insight to the Reds longterm plans for Stephenson.
Tyler Stephenson will be the Reds first baseman in 2024.
Joey Votto is in the final guaranteed year of the 10-year/$225-million extension he previously signed with the Cincinnati Reds. After this season, the Reds have a choice to make. They can pay Votto's $7-million option (making him a free agent) or they can pick up his $20-million option for the 2024 season.
This latest revelation with regards to Stephenson's playing time in 2023 would suggest that not only will the Reds not pick up Votto's team-option, but that his replacement is currently on the team.
First base isn't foreign territory for Stephenson. The right-handed hitting backstop saw time there in 2021 after Votto suffered a broken thumb. In all, Stephenson has suited up for a total of 24 games at first base, including 17 starts.
Of course, the health of both Joey Votto and Tyler Stephenson could greatly affect the way that David Bell plans to allocate playing time in 2023. And if Curt Casali or Luke Maile go down with injury, will Stephenson see more time behind the plate or will Chuckie Robinson receive a call-up to The Show?
The 2023 season is shaping up to be one of transition for the Cincinnati Reds. After this season, the Reds have no guaranteed contracts on the books. It's going to be an interesting season in the Queen City.