Tyler Stephenson's absence from first base makes carrying 3 catchers even more odd

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Tyler Stephenson
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Tyler Stephenson / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The Cincinnati Reds are one of a few major league teams that carry three catchers on their active roster.

Not only do the Reds carry three catchers, but each of the trio sees a decent amount of playing time. This decision would make a bit more sense if the Reds had a catcher that played multiple positions. But they don't.

Tyler Stephenson is the most athletically-gifted of the three backstops on the Cincinnati Reds roster, but the former first-round pick is also the worst in terms of defense among the trio of he, Curt Casali, and Luke Maile.

Tyler Stephenson's absence from first base makes carrying 3 catchers even more odd.

Seeing as how the Reds defense should be theoretically better without Stephenson behind the plate, he becomes an excellent candidate to split time between catching, acting as the team's designated hitter, and playing first base.

That was, of course, the plan heading into the season; give Stephenson more reps at first base and DH so as to lessen the wear and tear on his body. Stephenson landed on the IL for three separate extended stints in 2022. But Stephenson hasn't played first base since April, and that makes absolutely no sense.

Stephenson is by no means an elite defender at first base, but the 26-year-old is part of the young core of Reds players the club's front office hopes will be in the lineup for years to come.

With six-time All-Star Joey Votto out following shoulder and biceps surgery, and expected to continue to miss time over the next few weeks, why have the Reds been so apprehensive to put Stephenson at first base?

The Reds either need to utilize his versatility and ability to play multiple positions, or clear one of the other two catchers from the roster in order to make room for another infielder; most notably Elly De La Cruz or Christian Encarnacion-Strand.

The Cincinnati Reds roster and farm system are both incredibly crowded at the moment. The Reds have no business carrying three catchers unless they are going to be utilized the best way possible.

Tyler Stephenson has played just four (9-percent) games at first base this year, while catching in 22 (48-percent) and being the DH in 20 (43-percent). Those weren't the numbers that David Bell had laid out before the season.

Yes, Spencer Steer has filled in admirably at first base and Nick Senzel's play at the hot corner has been what Reds fans have been wanting to see for years. But that doesn't mean that Cincinnati should completely abandon the idea of Stephenson logging innings in the infield, especially if there are three backstops on the active roster.

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