From Zach Buchanan:

“The Cincinnati Reds and catcher Tucker Barnhart have agreed to a four-year extension with a fifth-year option, the team announced Friday morning.

The deal guarantees Barnhart $16 million, according to a source. He’ll receive a $1.75 million signing bonus, and will receive the following salaries throughout the course of the deal:

2018: $4 miliion

2019: $2.5 million

2020: $3.5 million

2021: $3.75 million

2022: Team option for $7.5 million with a buyout of $500,000

Per another source, the deal was front-loaded to give the Reds flexibility to make additions as they move into their contention window.”

From Jeff Wallner:

“GM Dick Williams on Tucker Barnhart extension: ‘Switch hitting catchers who can impact the game defensively are tough to find.'”

The deal is really a 1-year extension, plus the option year in 2022. The Reds already had control over Barnhart’s contract for three years. The catcher was about to enter his arbitration period, so the contract covers those three seasons plus the first year of Barnhart’s free agency. Option on the second.

The contract covers Barnhart’s age 27-30 seasons, plus the option year of age-31.

From Barnhart’s perspective, the contract provides well earned, guaranteed economic security.

From the Reds perspective, it offers a little bit of salary predictability and the front-loading. But we’re not talking about much money in either of those considerations. The main benefit for the club is locking up a 30-year-old catcher in 2021 and the 2022 option.

Tyler Stephenson just turned 21 and was catching for Low A-Dayton. He’ll be 25 in the final year of Barnhart’s contract.

Devin Mesoraco has a year remaining on his contract. You can expect the Reds to be looking for the opportunity to trade him during next season.

17 Responses

  1. Tom Mitsoff

    Terrific move. I’ve believed Barnhart is in the upper tier of starting catchers for more than a year. The front office understands Mesoraco is not the future. I hope Suarez is next.

    • Matthew Habel

      I would not go upper tier just yet, at least looking at total body of work. But he has definitely proved he is worthy of the starting role and this contract.

  2. TR

    It’s good news to have a steady, dependable guy behind the plate.

  3. scottya

    Very good news. Now I hope we can extend Suarez hopefully to a longer extension. Tucker ranks as a top 25 player in all of baseball currently for this season on the WAR list at

    • scottya

      Sorry that’s 25th in the National League with 3.4 war for the 2017 season.

      • Da bear

        I like Tucker and am very happy with this contract and one year extension.

        But lets be real. Tucker is NOT a top 25 player in the NL.

        The inability to account for framing pitches is just one factor. Reds have not valued framing which may be why Barnhart and Mesoraco are so bad at it….until umpires are replaced in calling balls and strikes or altogether, framing is an EXTREMELY important part of catching. Look at yesterday’s game when Votto took three straight called strike sliders while representing the tying run at the plate. And Scooter taking a marginal called third strike right after Joey.

        This says more about the problems with what goes into the calculation of WAR. WAR needs refining, just as the QBR in football is terrible in quantifying a quarterbacks value.

  4. wkuchad

    Love this move! But every time I get excited about the Reds next year, I remember they also extended Price. Sigh…

    Barring injury, the Reds after overall great team offense and defense locked up for several years. All it will take is trading/signing a solid #2 starter, healthy year from either Bailey or DeSclafani, and continued development from the youngsters. I have hope!

    • liptonian

      Technically they didn’t extend him right? They just didn’t fire him by picking up his option. But I agree with the sentiment.

  5. Scott Gennett

    I hope they’d obtain a refund on Mesoraco’s contract…

  6. Nathan

    Love how his salary drops to 2.5 in 2019. Hopefully it will open up some flexibility then when the reds are competing.

  7. Tom

    This is a safe bet contract extension. Barnhart is a huge part of the next 4 years and maybe 5. He’s matured as a batter and he leads the NL in fielding WAR. With young pitchers, having a confident catcher is key. Meso has more talent. Barnhart has grit.

    I think a deal for Saurez should be next. Reward the guys who are adjusting and getting on base plus improving defensively.

    I like having Gennett the next two years but I don’t think I would extend him this year. Maybe wait until he slumps next year and have that chat.

    As for Cozart – man, this is a tough one. He’s just kept hitting and I think it’s from adjustments that will allow him to keep performing between a 4-5 WAR for the next couple of years. How much will he cost and is it worth it. Then, where does Senzel fit? Well, I think the future outfield might be Senzel and Winker in the corners, primarily. They definitely need to rotate with Duvall and Schebler. Duvall needs rest – maybe 2 days a week and probably a 10-day scheduled DL sometime in late July or August. It’s not his fault – but he cannot play everyday at peak. If we think Top 5, Next 5, and Rest, this is a huge upgrade on the Next 5 and Rest position players.

    Also, Peraza has improved in the second half and he’s 23. I think the benching did him some good. He needs a good off season to really be ready to take off next year. I still have hope for him but he has to put in the work.

    • walker809

      Don’t talk to me about grit, or we’ll have to bring back discussions of Gritty McGritterson (Skip Schumacher).

  8. Scott Carter

    Ditto on the great job by front office and Corsets to Tucker well deserved. He has worked hard.

  9. Da bear

    Highly unlikely anyone will want the last half of Mez’s contract.

  10. Steven Ross

    I have no problem with this move. He’s earned it and he’s our #1 Catcher, as some of us stated a few months ago, so makes sense. Good signing.

  11. Sliotar

    I think you both, Jim and Chris, are spot on.

    Mesoraco’s salary for 2018 is a sunk cost for the Reds, but no reason not to try and get him on the Reds roster and playing.

    A) The Reds could strike lightning in a bottle, get off to a hot start, like Colorado this year, and be in the wild card race. In this situation, Mesoraco being functional has a lot of value to the Reds for the entirety of the season.

    B) If, more likely, the Reds are out of it by the trade deadline, a playing Mez, even in a backup role, might be worth another team parting with a lottery ticket to take on $4 million salary for 2 months.

    Roberto Perez was the no 1 catcher for the Indians last season in the playoffs, despite being far worse offensively than Barnhart. Catching is as thin as it has been in years in MLB.

  12. Bill

    I really like Tucker, glad they signed him. I know it’s nothing they can help but Meso seems to be like Bailey & Disco, play good go a while then go on the DL.