Tyler Stephenson was one of the bright spots of a tepid Reds offense that contributed to them finishing 62-100 and securing their first 100-loss season since 1982. The trouble was the Reds only called upon Stephenson in 50 games last year, and getting a full season out of their young catcher will be a huge boost to their lineup in 2023 and beyond.
As Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, the Reds are looking to utilize Stephenson in 140-150 games in 2023, but the majority of those appearances could come at designated hitter to try and protect his body from the rigors of catching. He did, after all, hit .319/.372/.482 with six home runs across 183 plate appearances so it’s no surprise that the Reds are trying to figure out the best way to get a full season’s worth of that offense.
The Reds have signed Curt Casali and Luke Maile to their roster and plan to carry three catchers throughout 2023, and Nightengale writes that the team could look to use Stephenson as a catcher twice a week, which would equate to 54 games over the course of the season, with Casali and Maile handling the rest.
Here’s some more bits and pieces from around baseball:
- Joey Meneses was a revelation for the rebuilding Nationals in 2022, slashing .324/.367/.563 with 13 home runs over 240 plate appearances in his age-30 rookie campaign. As the Talk Nats podcast revealed, the Nats tried to sign Meneses after the 2019 season but he opted to go to Japan instead. At the time, Japan was likely a far more financially appealing option for Meneses given he would’ve been looking at another minor league deal had he stayed in the States.
- The A’s are planning to use Jesus Aguilar at both first base and designated hitter in 2023, general manager David Forst told reporters, including Martin Gallegos of MLB.com. Aguilar appeared in 63 games at first and 60 at DH last year for the Marlins and Orioles, and it seems likely he’ll have a similar split this year. The 32-year-old had a disappointing 2022, slashing just .235/.281/.379 with 16 home runs over 507 plate appearances. He’d been a productive hitter for a few years prior though, and that was enough for Oakland to give him a one-year, $3MM deal for 2023. The rebuilding A’s will surely be hoping for a rebound at the plate so Aguilar can turn himself into a valuable trade chip at the deadline.
- Sticking with the A’s, and Forst says Paul Blackburn and James Kaprielian have both progressed well in their rehab and should be ready for spring training. “I think it’s reasonable to expect both guys to be ready to go,” Forst said (Twitter link). Both players figure to be part of Oakland’s rotation this year. Blackburn, 29, pitched in 21 games last year and worked to a 4.28 ERA over 111 1/3 innings, striking out batters at a 19.1% clip against a 6.4% walk rate. He was a productive pitcher for the first three months of the season and earned his first All Star game callup. He was shelled for 21 runs over 14 1/3 innings while pitching through pain in his pitching hand before he ultimately went on the injured list. That pain ballooned out his ERA a bit and wound up ending his season, so it’ll be interesting to see if Blackburn can rediscover his early season form in 2023. He’ll earn $1.9MM in his first year of arbitration. Kaprielian threw 134 innings of 4.23 ERA ball in 2022, but underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season to repair his AC joint. His rotation spot is probably a little less secure than Blackburn’s, but the trade of Cole Irvin opens up another spot and if healthy he seems likely to at least start the year in the rotation alongside Blackburn, Drew Rucinski and Shintaro Fujinami.
This one belongs to the Reds
No surprise with Stephenson. They should do that to mitigate concussion risk.
Not so sure. With Tyler, Elly, Jonathan India, Marte and Steer, they could have a playoff caliber infield. Tyler is less impressive as a DH. Maybe this is for the best short term and when Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte and Spencer Steer are good in 2025, Tyler can catch 90-100 games. By the way, I expect Myers to bounce back and Senzel to thud. Not Nick’s fault he’s a good guy, but his health has held back his game even when he is able to take the field.
He’s more impressive at first. That’s where he’ll end up
He’s most impressive at catcher, it’s not even close. At first he’s rather ordinary.
He is most impressive in the batter’s box. They should play him wherever there is less chance of injury(although the batter’s box is dangerous also. I think he went on the DL once via a HBP). He is about the only proven hitter they have unless India can bounce back and Votto can discover the fountain of youth.
Stephenson should probably start breaking in a First Baseman’s mit. His bat is too valuable to the Reds lineup and the Joey Votto farewell tour is coming sooner rather than later
This one belongs to the Reds
He has actually played first several times and acquitted himself well there in those appearances.
I’m curious to see if Votto forces the Reds to either pay him $20 million in 2024 or the $7 million buy out. Would the Reds buy him out or let him retire after 2024?
Sadly, the only way Votto gets his option picked up is if he has an MVP caliber season and even then its probably a “maybe”
How can Votto force them to pay $20 million? I would just pay the $7 million and let him walk. Use that money to buy some hopefully productive FAs. Especially outfielders.
I meant force the Reds to make the choice of declining. Declining the option on a franchise icon may not sit well with fans.
The decision to exercise the buyout at $7 million is a lot easier than you think. Even on a franchise icon
I agree. The Reds brass haven’t worried about what the fans think in quite a while. As tight as they are, they aren’t about to pay him $20 million versus $7 million.
JV one of my favorites but he would have to put up some mighty impressive numbers to even consider his return. And the price would have to be in line.
Del la Cruz would be a monster in CF, has all the tools
Maybe so. The guy is 6′ 5″, so I wonder if he can be either a SS or CF going forward. Maybe 3B, LF or RF.
Kap to the bullpen
If healthy i think the A’s open the season with a rotation of Blackburn/Fujinami/Rucinski/Kaprelian/Waldichuck and then see which of the front four get traded at the deadline
The Big Yo
A’s rotation is sneeeeeeeaky good. And with these young lads coming up like Sears and Ginn, not to mention Kenny boy. The A’s(with horrific limitations) have had a very clever off season
ROFL… Seriously? I feel bad for A’s fans. The A’s front office has made so many bad trades in the past year, it’ll be a decade before they’re respectable again.
The A’s have seemingly become a farm team for the Braves.
6 man rotation and see who continues to develop.
Nationals have twice now shown bloom to be a bad decision maker ( nemeses and ward)
I know Joey is probably not happy with Bloom but “Nemeses” seems kind of strong…
I remember when Joey Meneses was coming up with the Braves..
It seemed like every year he would switch between having a good year and a bad year..
If I remember correctly, he finally had two pretty good seasons his last two years, but he hadn’t hit above AA, and the Braves let him go with no DH at the time..
I wonder how his career, and several other players’ careers would have turned out if the NL always had the DH.
It was definitely an advantage for AL teams, especially when it came to drafting and signing int’l players. They never had to worry about finding them a defensive home, knowing if their bat was good enough, it didn’t matter if they could even field a pop fly, they still had a place for them on the roster..
Oh well, the past is the past..
1B or DH mostly for Stephenson. They have a good looking 1B/DH prospect whom they got from the Twins in a trade.. They have another prospect or two who might compete for 1B/DH in a year or two in the minors.. Votto should be gone by then, so there is some hope for 1B/DH going forward.. The problem right now is the OF.. No above average prospects in the near future unless they move some of their SS prospects to the OF or make a trade.
I think that is their reasoning. They believe that a SS is really such a good athlete that they can be moved to the outfield with ease. It does make sense. I don’t even see Cruz sticking around SS for too long.
Billy Hamilton was a SS. Senzel was 3b. The Reds have a history of moving IF’s to CF.
Your comment is based on what you want seeing the Red Sox as a fantasy league team going into 2023.
Mr. Bloom is running a ML Baseball Ops area where far too many considerations come into play. Particularly….
Where does the organization want the ML team to be in 2024 and 2025. What areas do they want covered, and in what way (LH / RH pitchers and hitters, speed, defense, etc. along with further breakdowns). What players under contract in their organization (including in the minors) are candidates to fill them; and what do the coaches on all levels have to do to bring some of them along meet the requirements the FO has for the future teams. Next add in payroll issues – who’s under contract for how many years; who will be due raises and how much; the amount of money to be budged in those out years to bring in free agents or higher salaried players in trade to make up for areas that the current players under contract will prove unable to fill, etc.
Good luck in your rotisserie league this year!
You ever work in a FO Samuel?
Saying the Reds only called upon Stephenson in 50 games is a bit misleading. That makes it sound like the Reds chose to not let him play when in actuality he was unable to play due to injury. Semantics? Sure, but they do matter.
Reds should have dealt McLain for Mareno from Toronto who ended up in Arizona. He profiles excellent at GABP and reds said they wanted to trade ss. McLain is a better return than what they got and he’s gonna be ready at some point this season. Mareno would give reds fans smtg to pay attention too
Not sure why Toronto would have wanted McLain over Varsho when a big league OF was their target. I also don’t think I agree with the assessment that McLain is better than “what they got.”
Has anyone been to a game at Great American ballpark? What’s it like? Seems like the riverboat smokestacks are corny?
I have been there three times. The first time I sat in the cheap left field seats, got them for $4 a seat. That day was incredibly hot, so the shade from the roof made our seats very nice. The other two times I sat near the visitors dugout on the third base line. Great pricing. Front row right in front of the third base bag was $28 a seat. Much better view. All three were day games though. The stacks really work better at night.. It really is a nice park though, although I haven’t been since they installed the second video screen in RF. My last visit there was Memorial Day 2015.
I am from Cincinnati, so I may be biased, but I love Great American Ballpark. It’s intimate and offers a nice view of The Ohio River and Northern Kentucky.
There are plenty of cool places to eat inside of the stadium and in an entertainment area called “The Banks” which surrounds GABP.
Make sure you get to the ballpark early and check out the Cincinnati Reds Hall and Fame and Museum. If you like baseball history you will love it. The Reds HOF and Museum is adjacent to the ballpark.
I went to see my cubs play them year before last and like 8 home runs were hit in the game and it went to extra innings. I was 2nd row in right field. It is a real fun park to see a game in for sure.
The problem is Tyler Stephenson is one of the top offensive catchers in baseball. If the Reds move him to either 1B or DH he wouldn’t even be average
Stephenson has had exactly two injuries in his young major league career. Unfortunately, both were last season. Still, moving Stephenson from behind the plate would be reactionary and greatly diminish his value.
This one belongs to the Reds
The concussions are a concern. I think the move would be for continued health reasons if it should occur rather than any comment on his catching. You want to keep an offensive talent like that around for a while.
The Big Yo
A’s above .500 this year
ROFL… Not a chance.
The A’s are not rebuilding. They have no interest in being competitive while pleading poverty. I don’t care about all the minor league players they have acquired in the past couple years or the stadium situation. They won’t be competitive again until they get what they want. Bottom line.
The As are similar to the Tigers. They are both developmental teams for the rest of MLB except the As actually are more successful.
Again, A’s 6th in MLB winning percentage since 2000. Comments like these are just asinine. A’s would have made the playoffs in 2021 if it had not been for the injury to Chris Bassitt and Bob Melvin giving up. They were in 1st place as late as mid June and still in 2nd place as late as Sep 21st. Went 13-18 down the stretch.
Wow what a comment. I’m talking about now. The present. Not since 2000. Not 2021. I’m talking about this ridiculous tearing apart of their roster. Who said anything about winning percentage since whenever? Nobody. My comment was about the tanking going on right now. Oh gosh I thought it was simple.
There’s a former A’s at every position plus a full starting rotation and pen all around MLB the A’s developed oh connoisseur of asinine.
I fail to see what having former A’s all around baseball has to do with what I said but ok I’m the slow one here.
Joey Menses is bloody good, period!!!