Statistically speaking, Luke Maile was a better choice than Tucker Barnhart

Detroit Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart
Detroit Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart / Rob Leiter/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds appear to have found their backup catcher for the 2023 season after agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with University of Kentucky alum Luke Maile.

Maile will serve as Tyler Stephenson's backup next season, and the addition of the former Cleveland Guardians backstop likely puts an end to the speculation of a reunion with former catcher Tucker Barnhart.

While many of the Cincinnati faithful were hopeful to see Barnhart return to the Queen City in 2023, quite frankly, Maile may be the better option.

Statistically speaking, Luke Maile was a better choice than Tucker Barnhart.

With Tyler Stephenson entrenched as the starting catcher, the Cincinnati Reds were in the market for a backup. Rather than sit around and wait to see whether or not Tucker Barnhart was going to land a starting gig with another club, the Reds decided to cut their losses and signed Luke Maile.

Maile, believe it or not, had a better season in 2022 than Barnhart. Maile, who backed up Austin Hegdes in Cleveland hit .221/.301/.326 and posted a wRC+ of 81 and was worth 0.7 fWAR. Barnhart, who was the Detroit Tigers starter last season, hit .221/.287/.267 with a wRC+ of 63 and fWAR of -0.2.

After the disaster that was Cincinnati backup catching corps of Aramis Garcia, Mark Kolozsvary, Austin Romine, Michael Papierski, and Chuckie Robinson in 2022, the Reds' brass decided to make an upgrade before the MLB Winter Meetings.

Historically, the Cincinnati Reds would have sat back, let the free agent market develop, watch quality backups be signed to deal more lucrative deals than what the Castellini's would have preferred to offer, and then settle for signing players like aforementioned Garcia to minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

Instead, the Cincinnati Reds identified the need, narrowed their search, and signed a capable player to backup Stephenson in 2023. It's not Tucker Barnhart, but statistically, the Reds made the better decision by signing Luke Maile.

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