The Cincinnati Reds made another move in free agency on Thursday, signing catcher Austin Wynns to a one-year contract. Wynns will replace outfielder TJ Hopkins, who was designated for assignment in a series of transactions.

Austin Wynns, 33, has spent parts of five seasons in the major leagues between 2018 and 2023. He has played for the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Colorado Rockies during that time.

In 202, he appeared in 51 games for San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Colorado, with the Rockies accounting for 131 of his 145 plate appearances. In 145 plate appearances, he hit.208/.268/.277 with six doubles, a home run, nine walks, and 39 strikeouts. In 653 plate appearances, he has a.226/.273/.324 batting line with 20 doubles and 13 home runs in 653 at-bats. His career statistics can be found here.

NEWS FLASH: Cincinnati Reds finally sign free agent
NEWS FLASH: Cincinnati Reds finally sign free agent

Behind the plate, he threw out 31% of attempted base stealers, bringing his career total to 29%. Despite limited playing time, Baseball Savant’s pitch framing numbers place him as a well above-average framer of pitches at +3 runs (21st out of 82). The more detailed breakdown reveals that he’s very good at framing pitches at the top of the zone but not so much at the bottom. On the other hand, according to the Baseball Savant metric, he struggles to block pitches. His -3 runs ranks him 76th out of 93 catchers. His pop time ranks 13th out of 81 catchers and is well above average.

Chuckie Robinson and Jhonny Peralta, both Triple-A catchers from 2023, left for minor league free agency. Austin Wynns is most likely insurance against Tyler Stephenson or Luke Maile getting hurt during spring training.

If the Reds do not place Austin Wynns on the big league roster after spring training, he will have to clear waivers. And it’s difficult to see him making the team unless a catcher is injured in the spring. He could clear waivers and be assigned to Triple-A, but he could also refuse the assignment and become a free agent at that point.

The Reds’ move is intriguing because does a 33-year-old with 600 career plate appearances who is coming off a.555 OPS in Colorado really warrant a big league contract as the 3rd catching option who you hope you don’t have to bring up to the big leagues? There had to be a minor league catcher – like the two guys who left in free agency after 2023 – who you couldn’t give a big league contract to in order to go to Louisville and be the third option, right? Maybe I’m overthinking it and someone in the comments can help me out, but this one is a bit of a puzzle, even if it’s not all that big of a deal.

TJ Hopkins, on the other hand, will find out his fate soon enough. He’ll be on waivers to see if anyone wants his services. Last season, he hit.308/.411/.514 in Triple-A with Louisville, but he struggled in 44 plate appearances with Cincinnati, posting a.398 OPS with 17 strikeouts. With eight outfielders on the 40-man roster, and nine if Spencer Steer is included, the Reds have plenty of options to lean on if they need more depth in 2024.

If Hopkins clears waivers, he could end up back in the minors, possibly with Louisville in Triple-A. He can’t take the free agency option because he hasn’t been outrighted before this minors.

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