There has been a ton of controversy revolving around the Cincinnati Reds and their 2023 catching situation. At various points throughout the season, each of the Reds three catchers have all come under scrutiny.
Most recently, Tyler Stephenson has been struggling mightily at the dish. The former first-round pick is hitting .171/.284/.232 in his last 30 games. Some fans have called Stephenson's slump unacceptable and have advocated to send him down to Triple-A.
Old friend Tucker Barnhart is now available after the two-time Gold Glove Award-winner was designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. While he was a longtime fan favorite in Cincinnati, the Reds should avoid re-signing Barnhart.
Why the Reds should not re-sign recently DFA'd catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Tucker Barnhart had a solid eight-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, where he was able to anchor multiple pitching staffs and was leader in the clubhouse. But Barnhart's career hasn't been the same since he was traded after the 2021 season.
His 2023 season with the Chicago Cubs has been especially bad, seeing him post a slash line worse than anything he's done in the past decade. The Cubs DFA'd Barnhart in favor of Miles Mastrobuorni. The Cubs now have Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya behind the plate.
At this point in his career, Barnhart provides a worse bat than Stephenson, Maile and even Curt Casali. Even Triple-A catcher Chuckie Robinson would be a better selection at this point in the season.
Not only has Barnhart's bat failed him, but his defense has fallen off a cliff as well. Per FanGraphs, Barnhart recorded 20 defensive runs saved (DRS), including 15 in 2017, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Since departing, he's posted -9 DRS.
Beyond that, the Cubs have employed three catchers for over 100 innings this year with the aforementioned Gomes and Amaya joining Banrhart behind the plate this season. Of the three, Cubs pitching has the worst ERA with Barnhart behind the dish.
Not only have Tucker Barnhart's stats taken a tumble, but if the Reds were to pluck the backstop off waivers from the Cubs, he'd still be under contract for the 2024 season. Barnhart signed a two-year deal with Chicago last winter. Sorry Reds fans, this would be very unwise.