In a move that seems to have surprised everyone on the planet, the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers have reportedly completed a trade that is sending 2-time Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart to Detroit in exchange for prospect Nick Quintana. Jon Heyman of MLB Network first reported that Barnhart was on the move, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report that it was Nick Quintana coming to Cincinnati.
There are a few layers here. First is that the Tigers are seemingly going to either pick up the option for Tucker Barnhart in 2022 at $7.5M, or they already have a deal for a different contract in place with Barnhart. They wouldn’t acquire him to simply let him walk. This deal opens up the catcher position, at least as it seems now, for Tyler Stephenson.
What this also does is save the Reds money. We aren’t talking about the money they chose not to pay Tucker Barnhart in 2022. It seems obvious now that they were going to decline his option. But they do save the money they would have paid to buy out that option – $500,000. While the 2022 minimum salary is not yet determined because it will be a part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the odds are good that $500,000 will probably cover at least 80% of the league minimum salary. Cincinnati was able to recoup that by finding someone who was willing to pay Barnhart for 2022. If they had no plans to pick up his option this was a smart play by the front office.
As for the return, the Reds are getting infield prospect Nick Quintana. The 23-year-old 2nd round pick from 2019 has struggled as a professional. The year in which he was drafted he hit just .194/.273/.280 for rookie-level Connecticut and Low-A West Michigan. This past season he played in Low-A Lakeland where he hit .196/.329/.346 (he also played in 7 rehab games in the Florida Complex League where he went 2-25).
Suffice to say – Nick Quintana has really, really struggled to hit beyond college. He played in the Low-A Southeast this past season, so we can get some additional information on him that we generally can’t get on minor leaguers. He had an outside of the zone swing rate of 29%, which would be solid if he did that in the big leagues. His max exit velocity was 105.2 MPH. That’s not great, but it’s not terrible, either.
Nick Quintana walks a lot. His strikeout rate is about league average. Where he struggled in 2021 was hitting for power and hitting for average. When he made contact, he simply didn’t do much with it. You can see all of his stats here.
Now as for what this deal tells you….. you can make up your own mind about that. But what the Reds official statement tells you, well, it’s not great if you were thinking that the team was worried about winning instead of worrying about money (which I imagine 99.5% of you already knew).
“But going into 2022, we must align our payroll to our resources and continue focusing on scouting and developing young talent from within our system,” Reds General Manager Nick Krall said in a statement from the organization.
Payroll. Resources. Cincinnati Reds fever – catch it!