This morning the Reds announced that they have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a contract extension, potentially through 2022. Barnhart was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year, and was set to be a free agent after the 2020 season. Now, the club has bought out arbitration while also giving him a guaranteed year in 2021 with a club option for 2022.
Here is the press release that was issued today.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the contract numbers broke down, but Zach Buchanan chimed in with the numbers on Twitter, per a team source.
Terms, per source: $1.75M signing bonus. $4M in 2018, $2.5M in 2019, $3.5M in 2020, $3.75M in 2021, $7.5M opt in 2022 with a 500k buyout.— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) September 22, 2017
Barnhart is in the midst of his best offensive season to date, slashing .272/.349/.399 in 397 PA, good for a 96 OPS+ and 3.4 bWAR. Of course he’s most known for his defense behind the plate, and this season he leads the National League in caught stealing percentage.
It’s a pretty savvy move by the Reds, as they’re likely getting Barnhart for a bargain if he continues to improve at the plate as we’ve seen over the last couple of seasons. Even if this is peak Barnhart, they’ve signed him for only a modest raise than he’d get in arbitration, especially in the final years.
It also gives the position a bit of security in the wake of Devin Mesoraco’s consistent issues and his pending free agency after next season.
A press conference is scheduled for 2:30 this afternoon to formally announce the pact.