The headline here does a very poor job of framing the most important juiciness of this Reposter, and for that I apologize. We’re going to talk a bit about Major League Baseball catchers here, yet the player listed first in this here title didn’t even get an MLB deal.
That would be Austin Romine, who you may remember from such informercials as The 2022 Cincinnati Reds Try to Win One Baseball Game a Week. As one of the litany of backup catchers who replaced Tyler Stephenson in very limited capacity after his injuries last year, Romine posted a .437 OPS in 99 PA, but did so with a solid reputation as a receiver behind the plate. That rep was good enough for the Reds to ink him again on a minor league deal, and he’ll serve as depth behind Stephenson, Curt Casali, and Luke Maile, all of whom are on big-league deals.
That announcement buried the signing of RHP Alan Busenitz, who it’s worth noting is returning to pro ball in the states after a pretty decent run of relieving in Japan. He posted a 2.14 ERA in 33.2 IP for the Rakuten Golden Eagles last season while teammates with former big leaguers Masahiro Tanaka and the wonderfully named José Marmolejos.
Sean Murphy’s the catcher here worth talking about, though, even though he’s not at all a Cincinnati Red. The former Oakland star became the latest Atlanta Brave to receive a contract extension while still early in his team control, inking a deal that will earn him $73 million over the next six seasons. Murphy’s in his first year of arbitration-eligibility and owns a 114 OPS+ in his career, and that’s relevant to our tastes because Stephenson - who’s still a year away from arb-eligibility - is pretty similarly studly with a career OPS+ of 115. Murphy’s durability is a plus in his cap in the comp here, as he’s nearly doubled the career PA of Ty Steves, but a full season of work in 2023 would put Tyler at roughly the same amount of career work as Murphy, who’s almost two full years older. The Reds obviously have not indicated that they’ll spend any money investing in their current crop of good players, but for anyone who hopes and prays that they’ll do so with Tyler, this serves as a pretty interesting benchmark for what a deal to lock him up might be.
Over at Reds.com, Mark Sheldon looks at the questions the Reds will be facing in 2023. One that Mark does not mention (that I would very much like to ask, again) is will it be 2024 when the Reds actually try to win Major League Baseball games again, or a date even further down the road? Christ on a cracker was 1995 ever a long time ago.
Here’s a cool note about Reds infielder Spencer Steer from Twitter friend Reds Fan Brandon:
Spencer Steer hit .313/.408/.585 over 311 PAs against LHP during the 2021 + 2022 minor league seasons.— OnBaseMachine (@RedsFan_Brandon) December 28, 2022
23 career MLB PA vs LHP:
He deserves an everyday role in ‘23 but ultimately could provide a ton of value as a versatile LHP masher. #Reds pic.twitter.com/bM1bqRJ6Kh
Steer has a lot of unleaded Todd Frazier vibes, in my eye, though it’d be damn cool if he showed out as the fully-leaded version as early as 2023. He’s certainly set to get the opportunity, that’s for sure, and mashing LHP is a decent way to begin.
Over at ESPN.com, Bradford Doolittle ranked all 30 MLB teams at this juncture of the free agent frenzy, and let me tell you, the Cincinnati Reds sure are one of them. They made it! They’re on the list! They’re a Major League Baseball franchise! (I’m beginning to think the Reds want us to simply celebrate that as being good enough.)
Finally, I’m gonna try to spend a few nights in the below cabin in the Colorado high country at some point in 2023. The only question remaining is how many nights without wifi (and therefore without the ability to watch Reds baseball games) am I going to want to spend?