Tucker Barnhart was slated to operate as the Reds' secondary catching option in 2017, but was quickly thrust into the starting role when the oft-injured Devin Mesoraco was placed on the disabled list prior to Opening Day. Mesoraco was able to return in late April, but he continued to battle a myriad of injuries throughout the campaign, which allowed Barnhart to appear in a career-high 121 contests. The 26-year-old held his own in the batter's box, slashing .270/.347/.403 with seven home runs and 44 RBI, but provided a majority of his value behind the plate as one of the National League's premier defensive backstops. Impressed with his performance, the Reds inked Barnhart to a four-year, $16 million extension during the season. Barnhart will enter 2018 as the primary option ahead of Mesoraco, but the modest pop limits his appeal.
Barnhart is 7-for-17 (.412) with three home runs and seven RBI through eight spring training games. After posting a career-best .270 average and taking home National League Gold Glove honors last season, Barnhart was rewarded with a four-year, $16 million extension with the expectations that he'd enter the 2018 campaign as the Reds' primary backstop. Though the 27-year-old isn't known for his bat, his early spring results are certainly encouraging. Barnhart is a viable option in two-catcher formats and receives a slight value bump in OBP leagues due to his propensity to draw free passes (9.9 percent walk rate in 2017).
Barnhart will be the primary catcher heading into the 2018 season, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. Coming off a terrific season that saw him win the National League Gold Glove award, Barnhart will earn the "lion's share of the playing time" according to manager Bryan Price. Due to Devin Mesoraco's inability to stay off the disabled list -- coupled with Barnhart's performance -- the Reds will utilize the former All-Star as a backup and pinch hitter in the later innings. Barnhart was rewarded with a four-year, $16 million contract in September, after slashing .270/.347/.403 with seven home runs and 44 RBI in 2017.
Barnhart is not in Saturday's lineup against the Cubs, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. He is hitting .288/.365/.470 with two home runs in 66 at-bats this month. Stuart Turner will start behind the dish and hit eighth.
Barnhart is not in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Brewers, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Barnhart will retreat to the bench for a breather after starting seven straight games behind the dish, going 6-for-25 (.240) with a homer over that span. Stuart Turner will take over as the team's backstop in his stead, batting eighth.
The Reds signed Barnhart to a four-year, $16 million extension Friday with a $7.5 million club option in 2022 ($500,000 buyout), Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus. Barnhart's chief value rests outside the fantasy realm, as he's thrown out 44 percent of the runners trying to steal a base on him this year. That's the best percentage in the National League and the second-highest in the majors, per Sheldon. He's been a valuable backup to talented but injury-prone Devin Mesoraco, and Barnhart now lines up to be in the Reds' plans, in some form, for the next few years.