The Cincinnati Reds traded longtime catcher Tucker Barnhart shortly after the 2021 season ended. Facing the dilemma of whether or not to pick up Barnhart's $7.5M team-option, the front office decided to deal the veteran to the Detroit Tigers.
The previous offseason, the Reds made the decision to roll with Tyler Stephenson as the team's backup to Barnhart and non-tendered Curt Casali. Stephenson proved that he was up to the task, and Cincinnati felt as though the former first-round draft pick had earned the right to be the Reds starting catcher in 2022.
Barnhart was dealt to Detroit in exchange for infield prospect Nick Quintana. The 24-year-old has been a solid contributor at High-A Dayton this season, hitting .217/.350/.373 with a wRC+ of 112 and walk-rate of 17.0%. But how is fan-favorite Tucker Barnhart fairing in the Motor City?
Checking in on former Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Tucker Barnhart is doing Tucker Barnhart things in Detroit. The 31-year-old is hitting .284/.329/.324 with three doubles on the season and four RBIs. Barnhart has yet to go deep in 2022 and has a wRC+ of 97. the veteran catcher has never eclipsed 100 wRC+ in his career, so he's hitting about as well as one would expect.
On the defensive side of things, however, Barnhart is not playing up to his usually high expectations. The former Reds catcher has -5 defensive runs saved so far in 2022, and according to FanGraphs, his framing has been below the norm as well.
I think it's fair to state that Tucker Barnhart is having an average season thus far in 2022, but you don't pay a catcher $7.5M to be average. That was the quandary the Cincinnati Reds found themselves in at the end of last year.
I thought if the Cincinnati Reds had been more patient, they could have acquired more than a below-average minor league talent for Barnhart's services, but the ownership was in a hurry to slash payroll.
Tyler Stephenson had just put very good numbers, and while David Bell oftentimes loves the lefty/ righty platoon, there was no way the Reds could continue to treat Stephenson like a part-time player. Parting with Tucker Barnhart was a difficult, but necessary decision for the Cincinnati front office.