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Cincinnati Reds trade catcher Tucker Barnhart to Detroit Tigers

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The first domino in what looks to be a busy offseason.

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

We’ve known for years that the Cincinnati Reds were going to be cost-conscious whenever they had the chance. So, with a $7.5 million team option hanging over the head of catcher Tucker Barnhart for the 2021 season and the emergence of rookie Tyler Stephenson last year, we long wondered whether Tucker’s tenure with the Reds would continue past this year.

As MLB Network’s Jon Heyman broke this afternoon, it will not. Tucker has been traded to the Detroit Tigers.

The deal was later confirmed by The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale, and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand added that 3B prospect Nick Quintana is the return.

If the Reds were truly so desperate to break up their catching combination and get some money off the books, it appears they’ve done so while at least acquiring something in return, though as last year’s salary dump of Raisel Iglesias showed, sometimes that something turns out to really be nothing after all. Quintana does appear to have a bit of name-brand promise, though, as a former 2nd round pick out of the University of Arizona in 2019. Still, he struggled mightily across three levels in 2021 and posted just a .645 OPS in 89 games while dealing with a recurring wrist injury.

As a result, Quintana did not rank among the Tigers Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline.

If anything, it shows that there are some teams out there that value Tucker at $7.5 million for next year. On top of that, it breaks up the platoon the Reds employed for much of the 2021 season, though there is obvious hope that Stephenson can continue to progress and be a force against RHP more often than not, too. Still, the Reds will now be attempting to address their second catcher situation in some other form or fashion this winter, unless they intend to turn that duty over to unproven rookie Mark Kolozsvary.

It ends Tucker’s Reds career abruptly, too. The two-time Gold Glove winner owns a line of .248/.324/.371 in 744 career games in a Reds uniform, which is obviously more than would’ve been initially expected from a 10th round pick out of high school back in 2009.

We wish Tucker well in Detroit.