After utilizing seven different catchers during the 2022 season, the Cincinnati Reds knew that something had to change heading into 2023.
The Reds front office addressed the issue by adding two catchers (Luke Maile and Curt Casali) to help limit Tyler Stephenson's reps behind the plate after the former first-round pick made three separate trips to the injured list.
The Reds inked Maile to a contract extension already this offseason and declined Casali's option. Stephenson is entering his first year of arbitration eilgiblity this offseason. Will the Reds make any more additions behind the dish heading into the 2024 season?
Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile will undoubtedly be part of the Reds roster
It appear as though the Cincinnati Reds feel comfortable with their catching situation heading into the offseason. Of course, that optimism is tied to a bounce-back season from Tyler Stephenson.
After appearing to be the solution behind the plate for the Reds after his rookie season in 2021, Stephenson struggled to stay healthy in 2022. Last season, Stephenson's bat and glove let him down.
According to Baseball Savant, Stephenson's defense ranked among the bottom of the league in blocking, framing, pop time, and his ability to throw out would-be base stealers. Additionally, Stephenson hit just .243 and his OPS was below .700.
As for Luke Maile, the University of Kentucky alum showed enough during his lone season in the Queen City to earn a contract extension with a team-option for the 2025 season. Maile shared time behind the plate with Stephenson and Curt Casali, but still managed an OPS just below .700.
Adding a catcher seems unlikely, but the Reds could pursue an extra bat
Given that the Cincinnati Reds only have two catchers on the 40-man roster, adding an extra backstop shouldn't be ruled out. As it is, the Reds don't have much quality depth behind the plate after both Johnny Perada and Chuckie Robinson elected free agency.
It seems unlikely that Cincinnati would be in the market for a backstop. However, if there are any left-handed hitting catchers available who have minor league options remaining, the Reds could kick the tires on that type of addition.
After posting an on-base percentage over .350 in the minors last season, Zack Collins would be a name to watch in free agency. Another name to keep an eye is former Reds farmhand Yasmani Grandal.
As a switch-hitter with the ability to play both catcher and first base, the Reds may be interested in a reunion with Grandal at the right price.
The most likely scenario, however, would be for the Cincinnati Reds to enter the 2024 season with the duo of Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile hanging the signs for the pitching staff next season and continue to develop young catchers in the minor leagues.