Cincinnati Reds: Forget J.T. Realmuto and keep Tucker Barnhart

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 10: Tommy Pham #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals scores on a sacrifice fly in the third inning ahead of the tag by Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 10, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 10: Tommy Pham #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals scores on a sacrifice fly in the third inning ahead of the tag by Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 10, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Rumors are still circulating that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. But, there are still a lot of good reasons to hang on to their Gold Glove winning backstop Tucker Barnhart.

J.T. Realmuto is regarded by many as the best catcher in Major League Baseball, and arguably, they are correct. It was reported earlier this week that the Cincinnati Reds are one of the teams interested in acquiring Realmuto from Miami.  He would no doubt have a lot to offer, but there are a lot of factors to consider about a deal like this one, namely, the Reds current catcher Tucker Barnhart.

Lets kick this off by taking a look at the fielding numbers for both catchers. Realmuto played 112 games at catcher in 2018 and finished with a .992 fielding percentage. He had 826 putouts, 46 assists, and 6 double plays. He also had 7 errors and 8 passed balls. Barnhart played 118 games at catcher last year and finished with a .998 fielding percentage. He had 871 putouts, 53 assists, and 4 double plays. Barnhart also only had 2 errors and 4 passed balls.

However, the biggest argument in favor of Realmuto aren’t his capabilities behind the plate, but his abilities with the bat. Realmuto was slashing .277/.340/.484 and a .825 OPS in 2018. In 477 at bats he had 132 hits, 74 runs scored, 30 doubles, 3 triples,  and 21 home runs. Realmuto also had 74 RBIs and drew 38 walks.

Barnhart finished 2018 slashing .248/.328/.372 with a .699 OPS. He had 114 hits, 50 runs scored, 21 doubles, 3 triples, and 10 home runs in 460 at bats. He had 46 RBIs and drew 54 walks. Again, there are some differences in their batting numbers obviously, except this time Realmuto has the holds the advantage over Barnhart.

There is also the matter of Curt Casali to consider. Casali was probably the best newcomer to the Cincinnati Reds last season. He really got to show his stuff in August when Riggleman called on Barnhart to help cover first base while Joey Votto was on the disabled list with an injured knee.

Casali hit 4 home runs, had 16 RBIs and finished batting .293 in only 140 at bats last year. That is one of the top 5 batting averages on the team last season. Casali had a .989 fielding percentage, 264 putouts, 18 assists, and 2 double plays as well. I think Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic summed it up best when he questioned the legitimacy of trading for Realmuto when starting pitching still remains the team’s biggest need.

The offense for next season has an incredible amount of power already with Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, Joey Votto, Yasiel Puig, and the possibility of Nick Senzel. If given the chance, especially with Turner Ward hired as the new hitting coach, I think we’re going to see both Tucker and Curt’s batting numbers improve a lot.

Also worth noting, if the Cincinnati Reds front office was unwilling to deal a player like Nick Senzel, Jonathan India, or Taylor Trammell to get an ace pitcher like Corey Kluber, why should the team do it to get another catcher?

Acquiring an All-Star catcher like Realmuto is going to have that kind of price tag on it. Are the Reds willing to lose the future of its outfield for a right-now catcher? What about all of those who are desperate to get Senzel to Cincinnati? Is losing his .310 batting average worth it for two years of J.T. Realmuto?

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To me, there is not a wide enough discrepancy between Barnhart and Realmuto for this deal to be worth giving up another prospect. Tucker Barnhart is on a very affordable deal. He’s signed a $16 million contract extension through 2021 last offseason. I understand why you would want a player with Realmuto’s talent on the roster, but the Cincinnati Reds already have two excellent catchers on their team.