The Cincinnati Reds have a battle on the catching depth chart.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

With the ascendance of Tucker Barnhart, all of the other catchers fight to be number two for the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cincinnati Reds love the defense provided by catcher Tucker Barnhart.  He won the 2017 National League Gold Glove for catchers.  Prior to the award announcement Barnhart signed a contract extension with the Reds.

Going into spring training, former All-Star Devin Mesoraco is number two on the depth chart.  He will be number two as long as he is healthy and with the Reds.  Neither of those is certainties for the 2018 season.

Mesoraco hasn’t been able to stay healthy since he signed his contract extension several years ago.  He played in 56 games in 2017.  He also ended the season on the DL.

The closer it gets to the trade deadline, the more likely that the Reds will trade Mesoraco, if he is healthy.  His salary means less with half the season to go than it does before the season starts.  If he stays healthy, the Reds will likely offer to pay his salary as well.

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That leaves a battle for the spot behind Mesoraco as the battle for the number two spot.  If it isn’t a battle for 2018, it could be a battle for 2019.  The Reds are stocked with young, defensive minded catchers.

The Cincinnati Reds have three catchers in the minors behind the major league duo.

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There will be a battle in spring training for the starting catching role in Triple-A Louisville.  The main contenders are defensive specialists Stuart Turner and Tyler Stephenson.  Each has claim to the role.

Turner spent all season with the Reds in 2017.  He came over in the Rule 5 Draft and was atrocious offensively.  Both his batting average and OBP were below .200.

Stephenson was marked as the catcher of the future before Barnhart took over for Mesoraco.  He had trouble offensively the first half of 2017.  

Now he looks poised to advance to the MLB level.

Meanwhile, breathing down the necks of Stephenson and Turner is Joe Hudson.  He was in camp with the big league team and impressed.  He appears to have the highest offensive ceiling of the trio.

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Whatever happens with Mesoraco, the Reds need to find their back-up catcher of the future.  Barnhart, also, may have already topped out offensively.  That means that the trio may be battling to take over for Barnhart someday, too.