Tucker Barnhart will spend the next week awaiting a phone call (unless he’s already gotten it, of course). On the other end will be someone in the Cincinnati Reds front office and they will have some rather important news for him. The Reds hold a $7,500,000 option on Barnhart that they can pick up for the 2022 season. If they choose not to pick it up then Barnhart will get a $500,000 buyout and he will become a free agent.
There are reasons to keep Tucker Barnhart around. The 2-time Gold Glove winner knows the pitching staff well and it seems that the pitching staff absolutely loves throwing to him. In the current state of baseball, you also need two quality catchers. The days of having one catcher go out there and get behind the plate 125+ times a year are over except in the absolute of rarest occasions. Every team in baseball would love to have Barnhart as one of their two catchers.
There’s not exactly a good free agent class of catcher out there. Manny Piña is the top catcher on the market according to Fangraphs version of WAR. He’s a strong defender, but he hit .189/.293/.439 last season in 75 games. Yan Gomes is the only other free agent catcher who posted a WAR over 0.1 in the 2021 season. Letting Barnhart test the free agent waters in a market where he may be the best catcher available could lead to a situation where Cincinnati is left with what is essentially a AAAA player on the every day roster all season long.
The side of the argument that would lead to the Reds not picking up Barnhart’s option could be two fold. First would be money. Plain and simple, the team may be looking to cut costs and with Tyler Stephenson established in the big leagues they may believe handing him the “majority catcher” job and bringing in someone on a lower salary to be his back up would save them money to spend elsewhere. While $7,000,000 doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to, depending on how things play out that could wind up being all of the money the team has to spend in free agency.
If the team believes Tyler Stephenson is the future at the position then it may just be time to put his name in the lineup 4-5 times a week behind the plate and let it ride. With an established 2-time Gold Glove winner who the pitching staff likes throwing to on the team could make that a bit more difficult.
Money. Tyler Stephenson. No one ready in the farm system to step in. Shallow free agent catching class. There’s a lot of things going on that the organization needs to consider when it comes to the option for Tucker Barnhart. Picking it up allows them to see where things stand next winter. Perhaps the farm system will be better suited to have someone step in for 2023 than they are right now. Maybe the free agent class will look a little bit better next winter than the one does this offseason. Or maybe the team simply is ready to move in another direction.
Look around MLB at salary of catcher and their playing record at the plate
Sign h.im then look for a good trading partner at or before the trade deadline
Keep him and Trade Mous. Stephenson may be a better DJ than Mous now. Barnhardt can dh too. Plus it frees up money to get a competent closer or lf
that would be a good ole’ stab in the back……………
Keep Tucker, for all of the reasons that you identified. Stephenson could catch and spell Votto at 1st and get plenty of at-bats and learn more about catching. Or, maybe, allow the Reds to investigate the possibility that 1st is his position going forward.
They need to try to renegotiate the 7.5 million to a lower amount over a few years. Stephenson needs to spend as much or more time at 1B as C with Votto being the DH. Stephenson can DH all along also. It will be a big mistake letting Barnhart go. He stays injury free for the most part. There are no options out there on the FA market who comes close. Then what if Stephenson is injured. You will end up with another non hitting AAAA bat everyday in the lineup. As Doug mentioned, he handles the pitchers well. A major league team needs two good catchers to rotate because of the wear and tear as well as the likely event of injury. If we are indeed stuck with Moose, work him in at 3B, 1B, 2B(?) and DH. If he doesn’t get in shape, he isn’t going to help at any position.
I’d love a 3 year 12M deal, but I’d be surprised if it happens.
3/11 million with playing time incentives as well as a Gold Glove incentives
That’s the direction I lean also, keeping him but at an extended lower price. If the Reds are going to be competitive in 2022, they cannot afford to have one quality catcher who then gets injured. That would leave nothing except AAA catcher the rest of the season. I doubt they win without a quality catcher.
I’m thinking they should but won’t, pick up the option. JV had a great year against RH’ers and mediocre against LH’ers. The likelihood of his repeating this year’s performance seems low at 38. And 3B is still a mess. Will Moustakas bounce back? Suarez? I’m not betting on it. How about SS? Is Barrero ready and capable of being productive as the everyday SS? Or is Farmer, a tough but below average option the SS of the future? And the OF, especially if Castellanos bails as he’s likely to? Pitching? Pick up Miley? Castillo and Gray? Stephenson, India, and the rest of the young guys, can they repeat or improve? Bottom line, catcher seems like the one position in decent shape, along with 2B potentially, that isn’t a question mark. I hope the Reds FO doesn’t turn it into one. Oh well, there’s always Ryan Lavarnway.
Christian Vasquez from the Red Sox had an identical OPS+ of 75. Boston’s GM is enthusiastic about picking up his $7mil option. I think that speaks to how thin the market is for reliable catchers.
I’m inclined to pick up the option and look for a trade…maybe the Reds eat a couple mil and basically buy a better prospect in return. Gotta think creatively.
Kolozsvary should be given the backup role. .780 OPS at AAA and we know he’s a strong defender. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think he can equal Barnhart’s career .696 OPS. It would be nice if he were left handed, but this allows for a more traditional starter/backup division of playing time which is a good thing.
I would not pick up Barnharts salary & Kolozsvary doesn’t sound to bad. I’d worry more about how to keep Nick. Cutting Barnhart might help.
Picking up the option will happen. Reds would be a total laughingstock of a franchise to not pick it up. I expect that they will trade him to use the 7.5M for other team needs and/or as a chip to trade Moustaskas or Suarez contracts the Reds must cleanse themselves from. The Marlins catching situation is awful. I am sure they would be very interested in Barnhardt. Let Stephenson grow into position, sign a veteran catcher to a minor league deal and let him battle Kolosvary for backup job…
The issue, IMO, is , if DB has Barnhart at his disposal, regardless of his salary, he will play him as the number 1 and TS will again be relegated to the first RH pinch hitter and we will see him running around in the OF out of position. If Bell has toys he cannot help himself.
I agree. Bell likes to WAY over manager. I believe Farmer went 3-4 one game and 4-4 the next and Bell sat him the next game because he fills out his line up cards days in advance. And they renewed his contract!!
Really? He sat a guy who had two consecutive good games because he’d already filled out the lineup cards? I’ll bet that wasn’t it at all. Farmer played a good part of the season with an injury that hampered him, Maybe he needed the day. Also, two good days in a row don’t come close to guaranteeing a third.
I know an outfielder who played for the White Sox this year. He was with the Reds a few years back and he would get me tickets to the Reds games, Section 125. He knew what days for me to come to GABP if I wanted to watch him play 3 or 4 days in advance. The manager, Price did in fact make out the game rosters early. Not sure if Bell does this still but it wouldn’t surprise me if he does since his roster lineups are questionable.
I would try to extend Barnhart for 3 years/$15M ($5M AAV). NL DH is coming. Rarely a good time to add a hole to the roster when signing a RF, possibly CF and bullpen are priorities. Known quantity. Guys like Mat Nelson probably wont be ready until 2024/25 anyways.
I think money to spend will prevail… It is likely the FO takes its chances as last of season regarding to SS and bullpen did with and does not pick Barnhart option up. Maybe they will wait the spring training to see if any player arises or can get someone from rule 5 draft and as last chance looking in cheap free agency available
I know it sounds crazy, but maybe we could convert a shortstop to a backup catcher.
(insert Jose Barrero joke here)
+100 Or just return the converted backup catcher back to being a backup catcher and general utility supersub.
And move Barnhart to shortstop?
Nah, Barrero is the SS. No reason Farmer cannot be a backup at both spots. I’d also carry a cheap glove first backup catcher but not one that costs more than a couple of million max.
I was kidding, Jim.
Would love to see the Reds work a 2yr 10 mill or 3yr 12 mill deal with Tucker. Tyler should take over the No 1 position. But having Tuck as the 2nd catcher is a great situation. Gives you a solid righty, lefty combo and a gold glover as your backup. Tyler should be given plenty of AB’s as a replacement for JV against lefties and as a DH vs American league. Also I suspect against NL’s as well. As has been stated above 4-5 mill per is not a lot for a solid backup catcher.
Tyler S. needs to play nearly every day, but with the physical demands of catching, he’s going to need to play some 1B and DH to make that happen. Based on current roster construction, I’m assuming our bench includes guaranteed contract players: (1) Moustakas and (2) Akiyama; (3) the versatile Kyle Farmer (providing Barrero starts at SS); and (4) Senzel/Naquin (likely platoon partners in CF) with the fifth spot going to a second catcher.
On the surface, that would seem to leave several opportunities for Barnhart to start at catcher where is LH bat provides platoon opportunities that maximize Barnhart’s weakness as a hitter. While this works for the catching position in isolation, does it provide the most value for the team as a whole? Under this scenario, likely bumps Stephenson or a LH-hitting position player (Votto, Winker, Moustakas) or Stephenson from the lineup–all of whom have outhit Barnhart historically. In short, on the days Barnhart plays, the hitting lineup is weakened.
There could be value in finding a RH catching partner who has strong splits against LHPs. This was a team weakness in 2021. With this approach, the Reds would use the backup catcher to bump one of our LHs who struggles against LHP out of the lineup resulting in a net gain in the hitting lineup. Both Pina and Gomes were outstanding against LHP in 2021 in line with their career split trends. Curt Casali also has good career splits favoring matchups against LHP, although not as good as Pina or Gomes. Casali is also familiar with many of our pitchers. This course of action is also likely to save money that could be applied against other priorities.
Both Barnhart and Miley could also have trade value that would warrant picking up their club options. Moreover, the roster could change a lot over the next few months making Barnhart a better fit than he is on today’s roster.
I agree money will prevail. How about this? Renegotiate with Tucker, 2-3 yrs. for less than 7.5 annually. Castellanos walks. Winker is moved to right field. Stephenson is the regular left fielder. Catching when they face southpaws. He might be shagging flies right now. Not saying they should. Just a thought.
It wasnt that long ago the Reds had a catching crisis due to injuries nor was it that long ago that Devin Mesoraco could never stay healthy, creating an unanticipated catching transition away from a franchise catcher.
Barnhart and Stephenson make a good catching tandem and give the Reds depth at a crucial position. A hit by pitch to Stephenson that breaks a hand in April or a pulled hamstring landing him on the IL for a month +, would create another catching crisis if Barnhart leaves.
I would avoid the option at $7.5 mil and instead try to work out a 2 year deal at a lower AAV. The DH and 1b will give Stephenson plenty of opportunities to get his bat in the lineup.
Keep the catching core intact and fix the bullpen and the offense against lefties.
Agree on all points. If Castellanos leaves, we will need a RH OF bat. We probably need one anyway.
I don’t see CIN exercising TB’s option. I think MLB.com had an interview with TB that all but pointed to his last days as a Red. Sad but a nature of the business for a smaller market team.
I expect CIN to pursue a catcher that provides leadership and mentorship to Stephenson and can also still control the run game. Enter Manny Pina or Martin Maldonado. Roberto Perez probably comes at too hefty a price. If not, he is another option.
The point is to find a compliment, not someone to take the #1 spot away from Stephenson. CIN has around 5 years of team control of Stephenson and they should take advantage of it. He is a 1st Round pick with definite upside that is already showing in some areas. Plus, he is undoubtedly a good clubhouse guy.
Spend the savings on the bullpen and the arbitration players.
TB could sign with NYY and excel there. Great D (much needed) and his pop will play up in Yankee stadium.
Signing and trading Barnhart will net some low A players that may not help during CIN’s competitive window.
A few questions –
1 – What deals did the Reds refuse at the 2021 trade deadline?
2 – What deals have they refused since?
3 – If another team offered $8m (or $7.5 and prospect(s)), would the Reds accept the sign and trade today?
4 – What is the trade value during/after ST to teams looking at inevitably injured Cs for April-June?
5 – What is the trade value at 2022 trade deadline?
6 – Would the Reds and TB agree to a 2-3 yr. extension and at what AAV?
7 – Pay 500k and wish him well.
I fear we’re looking at 3 or 7.
Reds fans are at it again
4.Hold ownership RESPONSIBLE to bring WINNER to Cincinnati
Exactly. I would like to add Fire David Bell but alas that ship has sailed.
Here’s the problem with trying to renegotiate a long-term contract with TB (which perhaps someone has already identified): he almost certainly thinks of himself as having a few more years of being a catcher who starts 120 or so games, and there are teams out there that need such a catcher with his skill set. Someone is going to offer him three years, $20 million (at least) to start for them, and he knows that. I see only two options: pick up his option and see how 2022 plays out (maybe trade him at the deadline) or not. Obviously it’s worth feeling him out about an extension, but he is just not logically the Reds’ starting catcher in 2022.
Here are the known and estimated MLB 2022 salaries for catchers. Black type means it is a known settled contract amount. Blue indicates a pending option of some type. Red is estimated for guys in the arbitration (or free agency) process.
At $7.5m, Barnhart would be in the top 10 in all of MLB or just below the top 10 (currently in mutiplayer scrum at 8th). That’s too much for what the job in Cincy projects to be. Here’s guessing TB’s paygrade ends up somewhere around the $3-3.5m old friend Curt Casali is estimated to pull in via the arbitration process (presumably with the Giants).
I would be surprised if the Reds pick up Tucker’s option. I think it’s much more likely they will pick up Miley’s option.
The have a starting catcher in Stephenson. They have a back up catcher in Kyle Farmer. Kolo or someone similar who is making league minimum will round out the catching group.
Having two starting catchers is a luxury the Reds can’t afford. The money saved can be used to make a run at Castellanos.
Thank Tucker for his time here, buy out his contract and give him an opportunity for a nice payday with the Yankees or another deep pocket team.
Agree. our comments crossed in the mail as the saying used to go.
I understand folks feel attachment and empathy for TB; however, when all is said and done, there are better fits for both him and Reds moving forward than staying together. He is probably not going to get that $7.5m in one pop but over 2-3 years will do better than if stays with the Reds.
The issue with keeping Barnhart around to spring Stephenson for spot duty at 1B or DH (or even LF) is that barring injury, given the Reds likely roster composition, the only time Stephenson is going to see duty at any of those spots is when the opposition is pitching a LH pitcher. Also, Stephenson hit both RH and LH pitching markedly better than Barnhart; so it makes no sense to routinely sit him against RH pitching.
I think the Reds should prep Farmer to do catch some games versus LH pitching because he is a highly effective hitter against LH pitchers. This would allow them to rotate Stephenson to one of the other positions on those days and address one of their most glaring 2021 weaknesses. The Reds could also carry a pure glove first catcher as the last man on the roster or count on Kolozsvary as the 3rd catcher in waiting at AAA.
If the Reds wouldn’t pay Iglesias $9mm last year they aren’t paying TB $7.5mm this year. The Reds are shedding money (and people), not adding. If we have an offseason that leads into an actual season, I believe you’ll see TB and the relievers (ML and AG) get dumped, NC not resigned and mostly the same infield trotted out for the Reds with 1-2 additions to the bullpen. Reds will hope to catch lighting in a bottle with the young guys in 2-3 years and hope the veteran players like Votto and Suarez are enough to keep fans moderately engaged through August in the meantime.
Don’t think you can compare Iggy situation to TB. Iggy was not a team guy and it showed in his performance if it didn’t offer a stat Iggy wanted. No one has ever accurately accused TB of not being a team guy.
The Iggy argument needs to center around his unwillingness to do the job asked at the time when it was asked. The options were to accede and make him a pure closer, or to have a flexible BP. If the latter is the direction the team wanted to go, then Iggy had to go.
The loss in that transaction is that the Reds had to make the decision on Noe Ramirez too soon due to MLB rules, or so I read. They made a call, it didn’t work. Had rules permitted making the call a month or two later, the trade likely looks a lot better. Not all decisions work out. It’s just unfortunate that the FO is not as perfect in real time as are arm chair second guessers, or those who suffer no consequences for their suggestions.
There’s a difference between not being a team guy and not being liked by The Reds. It sounds like you know more about the kind of person Iglesias was in the clubhouse than me but I’ll just say that it’s not the worst thing in the world if a player says I’m the best pitcher on this team and I deserve to have the ball to get the last out. But irregardless of how the return worked out, it’s safe to say he was a proverbial salary dump no matter how you slice it and the reason is likely because Castelinni and the owner group want to continue to save money.
Final note on the cynicism you’re sensing in my post, it’s meant to negate the idea that these clubhouse guys or team guys have any added value because they don’t call their own organization out. I’ve argued for some time the Reds inflate the value of guys like Suarez, Hamilton, and I guess for the sake of this conversation TB, because they are nice guys who don’t rock the boat. The sooner Reds fans and the organization start yearning for more confident, competitive, outspoken winners and not congenial, happy-to-be-here players, the sooner I believe a winning culture can be restored.
@Schottzie>> Amen and +1000 on that last paragraph. Castellanos (or somebody new) certainly lit a new fire in Winker and awakened Votto.
Nothing that happens in baseball is the worst thing in the world. If Iglesias actually thought that he was the best pitcher, he might reasonably have been expected to pitch in situations where the best pitcher was needed. Closers don’t routinely do that, but they do get to inflate a stat that is meaningful only in contract negotiations and ego feeding. I also disagree, philosophically, about the lack of value of “good” guys. Being a good guy and being competitive are not mutually exclusive, for one thing, and a group of people who like and support one another–has camaraderie–is not at any disadvantage when compared to a group of people who are feuding.
I don’t think Castellanos ‘called the team out’, at least not in public. I’m sure he lit a fire in the team, but it was with his performance and demeanor…I doubt he harangued players, or worse, management, in the locker room. The positive value of team guy is difficult to measure, but I’m sure its much greater than a player who isn’t.
I say you keep Tucker one more year, maybe you try to negotiate a less expensive 2-year. Remember, you’re not freeing up $7.5M if you have to sign a reasonable replacement. I suppose Farmer could be a respectable back-up catcher, but look, Tucker has value (maybe not $7.5 M) and to let him walk and get nothing in return would be a shame.
Trade Castillino, Suarez,and Mustakis for two relief pitchers who can throw strikes effectively with men on base. Put Bararro at 3rd, Farmer at ss , India at 2nd, Barnhart at c. Winker in left, Naquin in right, Denzel in center. VOtto at 1st and DH platooned with Stevenson when he is not catching. Yakiama pinch runner and backup outfielder. They can afford Barnhart by unloading Castillino(probably gone anyway) Mustakis and Suarez and Garrett.
there are 12 experienced guys who are going to be free agent catchers.
Many teams are set at catcher so most of these will be available and I count only 1 that is going to make $ similar to TB’s option. Most will sign for 1.5-3$ million. Curt Casali got $1.5M to be backup for the Giants last year. I don’t see why any wouldn’t be ok for secondary duty (40 games) or primary in case of injury. Then have Kolo available in a pinch and Farmer in a bigger pinch.
But TB’s been a good Red and I wouldn’t mind seeing him back – but not at the expense of getting 2 quality right handed outfield bats and 2-3 good relievers. We need several free agent 1-2 WAR players and not 1 backup catcher making more than 3$M.
Agree. It is not about personality or skills. It is about fit and budget.
From the player’s point of view why should he take less if the Reds ceiling is $2m-$3m and somebody is going to pay him more to work elsewhere? (something his agent should already have a solid feel about)
Another consideration from the player’s standpoint is that once he accepts being a backup, he is of an age that he will be seen as a glove 1st backup given his offensive history (~80 OPS+) and never again be able to market himself as a clear #1/primary catcher.
I refer again to Moneyball. They couldn’t play Pena over Hatteburg because he was no longer on the roster. If they don’t move Barnhart then he will play and Stephenson will mostly sit. Thats what Bell does. Siri can play in the WS but he can’t play for the Reds. Bell and the Reds FO needs veteran GRIT!!! Shogo has Gritsake (Japanese for grit). Doesn’t matter that he hits .204. Granted TB had some clutch hits and he’s good defensively etc etc etc, but no team that is trying to mature into a contender would play Barnhart more then a promising 1st rounder like Stephenson!
Ok so Tyler had 402 plate appearances and TB had 388. My point still stands. Their offensive skills & potential are not even comparable. Tyler should’ve had 70% of the catcher at-bats and let Barnhart come in as a defensive replacement with a lead that hopefully TS could help provide!
Break those plate appearances down by defensive position being played when they took them and that gives a better picture of the reality. I dug that out somewhere on Fangraphs in the last couple of weeks but did not mark it.
Ah, found it on FG. TS had 284 of his PAs in 2021 as a catcher, 74 as a 1B, 44 as a PH and 6 as a DH.
TB breaks down with 372 as C, 3 at 1B, 13 as a PH.
(Can’t put 2 links in 1 comment, so, you’ll have to take my word on TB or maneuver the FG interface to him from TS.)
Tucker is the better defensive catcher, and the pitchers like to pitch to him. That’s why he got more starts at catcher. Stephenson got more at-bats, and I expect that he will in 2022, as well.
And since you mentioned Hatteberg, he had a .868/120 OPS/OPS+ in 2007 on 417 PAs for the Reds and was released the 1st week of June in 2008 because some kid named Votto was ready to take over and they wanted to give Hatteberg a shot at hooking on somewhere else but he never did.
@Indy – I know what you’re saying but we see it all the time in mlb. The Padres, rangers, Cubs, dodgers, and giants – all with very highly rated prospects – chose to go with primary or backup catchers who were good defenders and maybe even gritty and kept prospects in minors. Managers and front offices really value that – especially at catcher. There is obviously a lot more to the position than we know.
However, Kolo played for mike Socia during qualifying and olympics and he raved about kolo. And Socia knows a little bit about catching at the mlb level.
It boils down to the Reds budget. With dead money/poorly spent money on Akiyama and Moose and big contracts elsewhere( Votto/Suarez/Gray) and huge arbitration raises ( Mahle, Castillo, WInker, Naquin) and needed money for good bullpen arms and right handed bats…….. that means the Reds are going to need to spend $145 million to field a deep roster with balanced hitting from both sides, a good bullpen, 2 good catchers and a strong rotation. If Barnhart agreed to a 2 year 9 million deal @ AAV $4.5 million with the Reds having an option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout, that would be a good deal for both parties and it wouldnt be a budget buster. Injuries happen and if the Reds find themselves in 2022 for any significant time with no Barnhart( gone to FA) and no Stephenson( gone to injury) the season becomes compromised. The only position group saved from injury in 2021 was the catching group and perhaps that was because they were well rested.
Votto/Moose/Winker/Senzel/Castellanos/Akiyama/Antone/Sims/Lorenzen/Gray/Miley/Warren/Aquino/Schrock all missed significant time to injuries with Farmer and India needing more time off due to nagging injuries.
Spending $5 million or so for a catching tandem is wise and gives depth and injury insurance if/when 1 goes down. On a budget with $145 million, 5 mil is great value for 2 quality catchers. Now if the budget is $120-25 million, then nothing matters and all folks are doing are enabling and apologizing for Castellini not committing to winning and pretending somehow that Barnhart is a Reds budget buster. A 2022 Reds team with a $125 million budget with no Castellanos and no Barnhart and free agent filler in the OF and at catcher and in the bullpen is a third place 81-81 team.
Well stated. That is where we are at. I wish the Reds were ran like the Braves organization. They go out and get what is needed. They had more critical injuries than we did but reacted in a more positive way.
I am just going to be blunt and tell it like it is.
Send him packing .
Yeah, he has some gold gloves, but he can’t hit. ”I am a offense of thinking kind of guy”.
Stephenson can hit , he has a good arm behind the plate and he can call a good game.
No need to sign him because of attachment. Run the business accordingly . I am not one to get attached to players and say but I like Barnhart . This is one of the biggest problems in the Reds organization I feel. Bob C leading the way.
Exactly. Corner OF who can hit are a dime for a dozen. Corner infielders who can hit are a dime for 2 dozen. Guys who can hit as DH are a dime for 3 dozen. A guy who can be at least an average defensive catcher and hit among the best in MLB is like a hen’s tooth. The Reds have one of the latter in Stephenson. Exploit the advantage.
And don’t feel badly for Barnhart, he has made ~$17m in salary from the Reds and if his body holds up, he will make at least another $5-10m total before he calls it a career.
I am going to pretend I am Bob C. here giving a interview.
Reporter ; I quote , so what do you do with T. Barnhart.
Bob C : well I like Barnhart, he is like one of my children.
If we don’t sign him the fans will hate me .
A Reds fan and a reporter ends the interview. hahaha
Reds trade Barnhart to Tigers:
… for another 3B!
Tucker got traded today. Time for Stephenson to shine. Reds might consider signing Kyle Schwarber as an OF/C.