While the Cincinnati Reds targeted former farmhand Yasmani Grandal as a possible free agency pickup this offseason, the Chicago White Sox picked him up for 4 years and $73 million earlier today. While the Reds wanted to bring in Grandal, they were most likely looking for a short-term, win-now deal with Grandal. Grandal has played two straight years on short term deals and obviously chose a team that offered him a long-term deal. Ultimately, the Reds didn’t meet that request for Grandal and their focus will now shift to other free agent options at their positions of need.
While Robinson Chirinos and Stephen Vogt are still available on the market, the club may decide to stay in-house and consider Tyler Stephenson as an option for next year behind the plate. The Reds’ current #7 prospect had the best offensive numbers of his career in Chattanooga this year, batting .285/.372/.410 with 6 homers in 89 games. He continued to hit in the Fall League, posting a 347/.418/.490 line and making the Fall Stars team.
Stephenson was recently added to the 40-man roster in order to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 draft and is in line to start the year in Louisville. If he continues his recent mashing ways in Triple-A, I could easily see him getting called up early in the 2020 season depending on how Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali and Kyle Farmer are hitting. It’s a no-brainer for the Reds: Stephenson is one of their best prospects that could give them instant offense and work with pitchers every day to build relationships with them for the future.
If the front office decides to keep him in Louisville for the season, he will most likely still come up in September as the catcher of the future. Tyler Stephenson may not be completely ready yet, but he’s got a chance to move up quickly in 2020.