Cincinnati Reds’ sixth off-season priority – find a part-time catcher with some offensive upside

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds have a four catchers that can be back-ups at the big league level, but need someone to match them up with in 2017.

In 2016 the Cincinnati Reds went with presumed back-up, Tucker Barnhart, as the starting catcher for most of the year.  He did an admirable job with a weak pitching staff, but was only passable offensively.  The offensive combination of Barnhart and Ramon Cabrera lost steam as the season wore on through August.

None of the Reds’ current catching options are offensive juggernauts.  Devin Mesoraco only had one great offensive season in 2014 and hasn’t played much since then.  Barnhart and Cabrera held it together,  but didn’t contribute much beyond the absolute minimum.

The Reds ranked 26th in MLB in home runs by their catchers, ranking a surprising third in the National League Central ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Saint Louis Cardinals.  That doesn’t tell the entire story, though, as the Reds ranked in the middle of the pack in both OBP and batting average.  The only team that they beat out in runs scored by catchers in all of baseball was the New York Mets.  The Reds’ catchers were great at making contact having the sixth fewest strikeouts by catchers in all of baseball.

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Playing in the cardboard box with the wind blowing called Great American Ballpark, the Reds need more offense from the catcher.

The Reds need to find someone could be a partner to one of the part-time catchers, whether that is Mesoraco or Barnhart.  Both of them have shown an ability to be a nearly full-time catcher, but neither has been the man.  The Reds need the combination to workout to be the same as one really good catcher.

The Reds have the ability to bring on board a veteran catcher in this spot.  All of their mainline catchers are early in their careers.  Bringing in someone who has been the man behind the plate before could really help the situation.

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One such player is Brian McCann of the New York Yankees.  He has been replaced as the catcher by rookie sensation Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez nearly carried the Yankees into the postseason on the strength of his play down the stretch.

Next: First the Reds need to move Bradon Phillips

Next: Then they need to auction off Raisel Iglesias

Next: With Iglesias gone the Reds need to decide about Blake Wood

Next: Then the Reds need to bring back Ohlendorf and Simon

McCann has two years left on his contract at $17-million per year.  The Cincinnati Reds would not take on all of this money for a half time catcher.  Once they move Brandon Phillips, they could afford to take on most of it. The Reds can send Phillips there as a back-up infielder.  They can also send Raisel Iglesias as part of a high end package.  Either way, they could use McCann’s bat and catching expertise in Cincinnati in 2017.