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.
Tigers acquiring Tucker Barnhart in trade with Reds— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 3, 2021
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.
The Tigers will send 24-year-old 3B prospect Nick Quintana to the Reds for Barnhart, per source. Also, Barnhart's option is $7.75M, not $7.5M. There is a $500K buyout, though if the Tigers are trading for him, you'd have to assume they plan to exercise the option.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 3, 2021
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.
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.