From Zach Buchanan:

“The Cincinnati Reds and catcher Tucker Barnhart have agreed to a four-year extension with a fifth-year option, the team announced Friday morning.

The deal guarantees Barnhart $16 million, according to a source. He’ll receive a $1.75 million signing bonus, and will receive the following salaries throughout the course of the deal:

2018: $4 miliion

2019: $2.5 million

2020: $3.5 million

2021: $3.75 million

2022: Team option for $7.5 million with a buyout of $500,000

Per another source, the deal was front-loaded to give the Reds flexibility to make additions as they move into their contention window.”

From Jeff Wallner:

“GM Dick Williams on Tucker Barnhart extension: ‘Switch hitting catchers who can impact the game defensively are tough to find.'”

The deal is really a 1-year extension, plus the option year in 2022. The Reds already had control over Barnhart’s contract for three years. The catcher was about to enter his arbitration period, so the contract covers those three seasons plus the first year of Barnhart’s free agency. Option on the second.

The contract covers Barnhart’s age 27-30 seasons, plus the option year of age-31.

From Barnhart’s perspective, the contract provides well earned, guaranteed economic security.

From the Reds perspective, it offers a little bit of salary predictability and the front-loading. But we’re not talking about much money in either of those considerations. The main benefit for the club is locking up a 30-year-old catcher in 2021 and the 2022 option.

Tyler Stephenson just turned 21 and was catching for Low A-Dayton. He’ll be 25 in the final year of Barnhart’s contract.

Devin Mesoraco has a year remaining on his contract. You can expect the Reds to be looking for the opportunity to trade him during next season.

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Related Posts

34 Responses

  1. Tom Mitsoff

    Terrific move. I’ve believed Barnhart is in the upper tier of starting catchers for more than a year. The front office understands Mesoraco is not the future. I hope Suarez is next.

    • Jim Walker

      Took the words right out of my thoughts on all counts Tom. I would only add good luck to Devin Mesoraco come what may, What’s befallen him is no fault of his own.

    • Matthew Habel

      I would not go upper tier just yet, at least looking at total body of work. But he has definitely proved he is worthy of the starting role and this contract.

    • Kyle Farmer

      +1 on this and and additional 99 for locking up Geno.

  2. TR

    It’s good news to have a steady, dependable guy behind the plate.

  3. Hotto4Votto

    Great idea and great extension. I like it. Good job Dick Williams. Congrats to Tucker on well earned money/security.

  4. scottya

    Very good news. Now I hope we can extend Suarez hopefully to a longer extension. Tucker ranks as a top 25 player in all of baseball currently for this season on the WAR list at

    • scottya

      Sorry that’s 25th in the National League with 3.4 war for the 2017 season.

      • Da bear

        I like Tucker and am very happy with this contract and one year extension.

        But lets be real. Tucker is NOT a top 25 player in the NL.

        The inability to account for framing pitches is just one factor. Reds have not valued framing which may be why Barnhart and Mesoraco are so bad at it….until umpires are replaced in calling balls and strikes or altogether, framing is an EXTREMELY important part of catching. Look at yesterday’s game when Votto took three straight called strike sliders while representing the tying run at the plate. And Scooter taking a marginal called third strike right after Joey.

        This says more about the problems with what goes into the calculation of WAR. WAR needs refining, just as the QBR in football is terrible in quantifying a quarterbacks value.

      • Chris Miller

        Couldn’t agree more. This isn’t a knock on Tucker either. I love the deal, and am very impressed with how Tucker has upped his game to find himself earning such a nice contract for what I believe is an average, but needed player on this team.

  5. Old-school

    There is your Reds catching succession plan.
    Tucker Barnhart is the catcher on the next reds great team.

  6. wkuchad

    Love this move! But every time I get excited about the Reds next year, I remember they also extended Price. Sigh…

    Barring injury, the Reds after overall great team offense and defense locked up for several years. All it will take is trading/signing a solid #2 starter, healthy year from either Bailey or DeSclafani, and continued development from the youngsters. I have hope!

    • liptonian

      Technically they didn’t extend him right? They just didn’t fire him by picking up his option. But I agree with the sentiment.

  7. Patrick Jeter

    Good for Tucker and his family. He’s earned it.

  8. Scott Gennett

    I hope they’d obtain a refund on Mesoraco’s contract…

  9. Nathan

    Love how his salary drops to 2.5 in 2019. Hopefully it will open up some flexibility then when the reds are competing.

  10. Tom

    This is a safe bet contract extension. Barnhart is a huge part of the next 4 years and maybe 5. He’s matured as a batter and he leads the NL in fielding WAR. With young pitchers, having a confident catcher is key. Meso has more talent. Barnhart has grit.

    I think a deal for Saurez should be next. Reward the guys who are adjusting and getting on base plus improving defensively.

    I like having Gennett the next two years but I don’t think I would extend him this year. Maybe wait until he slumps next year and have that chat.

    As for Cozart – man, this is a tough one. He’s just kept hitting and I think it’s from adjustments that will allow him to keep performing between a 4-5 WAR for the next couple of years. How much will he cost and is it worth it. Then, where does Senzel fit? Well, I think the future outfield might be Senzel and Winker in the corners, primarily. They definitely need to rotate with Duvall and Schebler. Duvall needs rest – maybe 2 days a week and probably a 10-day scheduled DL sometime in late July or August. It’s not his fault – but he cannot play everyday at peak. If we think Top 5, Next 5, and Rest, this is a huge upgrade on the Next 5 and Rest position players.

    Also, Peraza has improved in the second half and he’s 23. I think the benching did him some good. He needs a good off season to really be ready to take off next year. I still have hope for him but he has to put in the work.

    • lwblogger2

      Wait a minute… Yes, Barnhart has grit but so does Mesoraco. The guy isn’t as good defensively as Barnhart nor was he ever a particularly good defensive backstop. That said, Mesoraco does handle pitchers exceptionally well. Mesoraco has lots of fire in his belly. That’s never been the issue. The issue has been health and mostly due to bad genes and lots of wear and tear.

      • walker809

        Don’t talk to me about grit, or we’ll have to bring back discussions of Gritty McGritterson (Skip Schumacher).

  11. Shchi Cossack

    This is a very good deal for both parties. Tucker is a new father and the finacial security means a lot in that situation. If Tuck had played year-to-year through arbitration and into FA, he would have made significantly more…if all went well. Let’s hope for good health and let the chips fall where they may.

    This is the same type of contract Mesoraco signed and that was a good deal also for both parties when it was signed. In Mesoraco’s situation, things certainly didn’t go well. I don’t see how the Reds can possibly trade Mesoraco and his contract now, unless they simply pay him to play for someone else as they did with Phillips. The best possibility is to keep Mesoraco on the 25-man roster in 2018 and hope for the best. If Mesoraco can play healthy and produce offensively, he may rebuild some trade value before the 2018 trade deadline.

    The front-loading of the contract speaks volumes about the Reds’ future plans for the rebuild.

    • Steve Mancuso

      They’ll have to trade Mesoraco at the deadline next year.

      • Da bear

        Highly unlikely anyone will want the last half of Mez’s contract.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Depends on his health and how he plays next year. If he’s healthy and hitting, the Reds could trade a catcher at the deadline. Rentals are a virtue, not a bug, in certain situations.

      • lwblogger2

        And could even send along some money if they wanted in a deal. Some savings would be better than no savings if it came down to it.

      • Jim Walker

        By doing this deal with Barnhart the Reds have essentially acknowledged Mesoraco’s salary as a sunken cost

        I thought they might outright him off the 40 man roster last off season when they appeared to be in a crunch for 40 man spots. This year given that they’ve cast their fate with Barnhart, there would seem to be no reason at all to spend a 40 man winter roster spot on Meso.

        If somebody claims him on outright waivers, there’s $13M saved (virtually no chance this happens). Good bye and best of luck.

        If not, Meso certainly isn’t going to refuse the outright and thus forfeit the $13M; so they just play things from there. Start him in the minors. Maybe have him play some 1B and LF as well as catch. If and when he is healthy and cooking bring up; but always be shopping him for a chance to save as much of his salary as they can,

      • Chris

        I get that they may want to get out from under the last few million they own Mez, but why do you see it has a “have to” thing?

      • Sliotar

        I think you both, Jim and Chris, are spot on.

        Mesoraco’s salary for 2018 is a sunk cost for the Reds, but no reason not to try and get him on the Reds roster and playing.

        A) The Reds could strike lightning in a bottle, get off to a hot start, like Colorado this year, and be in the wild card race. In this situation, Mesoraco being functional has a lot of value to the Reds for the entirety of the season.

        B) If, more likely, the Reds are out of it by the trade deadline, a playing Mez, even in a backup role, might be worth another team parting with a lottery ticket to take on $4 million salary for 2 months.

        Roberto Perez was the no 1 catcher for the Indians last season in the playoffs, despite being far worse offensively than Barnhart. Catching is as thin as it has been in years in MLB.

  12. Scott Carter

    Ditto on the great job by front office and Corsets to Tucker well deserved. He has worked hard.

  13. Steven Ross

    I have no problem with this move. He’s earned it and he’s our #1 Catcher, as some of us stated a few months ago, so makes sense. Good signing.

  14. lwblogger2

    I generally don’t like extensions buying out arb years for catchers or pitchers. I feel the injury risk is too high. I think this move comes at a low enough cash outlay that the risk isn’t as great. The deal also buys out 1 or possibly 2 free-agent years at reasonable money, which means risk is further offset by the reward of Barnhart providing much more value than what he’ll be paid in what would be his 1st FA year… This is a good deal as far as “baseball money” in concerned.

    On the same topic though, a subject that might be ripe for research is how often these types of deals pan out for teams and how often they end up going south due to injury or under-performance of the signed player. To further narrow the project, perhaps just catchers could be looked at first… I may have some work to do.

  15. Chris

    Worst case, this is a very good deal for a fine defensive backup catcher. Best case, they’re buying out two free agent years of a 4-5 WAR player and clubhouse leader.

  16. Bill

    I really like Tucker, glad they signed him. I know it’s nothing they can help but Meso seems to be like Bailey & Disco, play good go a while then go on the DL.

  17. msanmoore

    Love this … it was a choice at one point between Mez and Grandal (who was a juicer if you recall). Reality bit hard and it may cost us the way it did to unload BP. That’s just what happens.

    I’m giving this almost all of my points remaining for the rest of the year.