Let's not kid ourselves. Barnhart was never going to see the field for the Reds in 2022. His $7.5M team-option was far too much for Cincinnati to pay a backup catcher.
That's no slight against Barnhart who'll get plenty of playing time in Detroit. But Tyler Stephenson proved in 2021 that he was ready to take the next step and become the Reds everyday catcher.
Will Wade Miley be the next Reds player dealt?
By dealing Barnhart, the Reds effectively saved $7.5M worth of payroll heading into next season. Might Miley's 2022 salary of $10M be the next to go?
Miley's situation is a bit different than Barnhart's. Barnhart, while a very capable defensive-minded catcher, was worth 0.2 WAR last season. Miley's 6.0 WAR led the team and was tied for 4th most among pitchers in the league.
Miley's $10M salary in 2022 would be a steal for the Reds. That said, there are likely several GMs who are calling Nick Krall right now to inquire about whether or not the southpaw is available.
While Miley's 2021 season, which included a no-hitter, was one of the best in the National League, Krall should unquestionably make Miley available in trade conversations.
The Reds have plenty of pitching depth.
Some fans would question my sanity for even suggesting that, but the Cincinnati Reds have a giant stable of young, talented pitchers who are ready to prove themselves at the major league level.
In addition to Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo, both of whom are under team-control through the 2023 season, the Reds have a ton of young talent on the farm.
This last season, we saw the successful MLB debut of Vladimir Gutierrez. The right-hander, who ran out of gas down the stretch, will certainly be in the mix to be part of the starting rotation in 2022.
The Reds also saw Reiver Sanmartin make two starts in 2021. Though both were at the end of the season and against the Pittsburgh Pirates, there's no question that the talent is there.
But Cincinnati also has former first-rounders Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. Both are primed to make their major league debuts in 2022.
The Reds could enter spring training with the trio of Mahle, Castillo, and Sonny Gray atop the rotation, and allow the quartet of Sanmartin, Gutierrez, Lodolo, and Greene to battle it out for the final two spots.
There's also the return that the Cincinnati Reds could receive for a player like Wade Miley. Swinging a trade for the lefty could allow the Reds to bolster their bullpen or add depth to the farm system.
While some fans will look at trading away Tucker Barnhart as a way to save money, I prefer to look at it as a way to get Tyler Stephenson more playing time.
Dealing Wade Miley could bring a similar outcome; offering a starting spot to one of Cincinnati's young hurlers.
If dealing away players like Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley allows some of the Reds young talent to showcase their skills, I'm all for it.
Furthermore, if the money saved by making such deals permits the Reds to spend heavily on retaining a player like Nick Castellanos or offer an extension to a player like Jesse Winker, sign me up.