Tyler Stephenson's disappointing 2023 season presents the Reds with problems moving forward

Tyler Stephenson has looked like a shell of himself this season.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson / Jeff Dean/GettyImages
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Tyler Stephenson was supposed to be one of the key pieces of a Cincinnati Reds squad that would look to rule the National League Central for years to come.

Stephenson was going to be that steady presence behind the plate along with a crop of young, dynamic infielders like Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain, coupled with a talented group of starters like Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo that would help push the Reds to new heights.

But that script may need to be severely edited. While De La Cruz, McLain, and others look to be fixtures in the lineup for the foreseeable future, Stephenson has fallen on hard times this season. Without any help on the horizon in the minor leagues, how will the Reds handle the catcher's spot moving forward?

The Reds farm system offers no viable options to replace Tyler Stephenson.

First, let's abandon the idea that any catcher in the Cincinnati Reds farm system is remotely ready to take up the mantle and become the team's everyday catcher in 2024. Yes, Chuckie Robinson is a good story, but he's a backup catcher at best.

The Reds have spent several high draft picks on backstops in recent years, but none of them are ready for The Show. Logan Tanner, Matheu Nelson, Alfredo Duno, and others are lightyears away from making their major league debut.

That puts the Reds in a bit of pickle. Tyler Stephenson is under team control for three more seasons, but his .240/.325/.351 slash line is concerning. Prior to this season, Stephenson was hitting .296/.369/.454. Furthermore, Stephenson's defense has not been good.

Coaches and fans can typically forgive a below-average bat behind the plate if a catcher provides an above-average glove. That's not the case with Stephenson. According to Baseball Savant, Stephenson's framing is among the worst in baseball. The same holds true for defensive runs saved. According to Fielding Bible, Stephenson is worth -5 DRS this season.