Mets: Tucker Barnhart is a solid backup plan to the J.T. Realmuto pursuit
By Leen Amin
If the New York Mets are unable to finalize a trade for J.T. Realmuto, a solid second-choice via trade could be Tucker Barnhart.
The moves the New York Mets have been making during this offseason have been eye-opening. They are on the right track to becoming a serious threat in the NL East and making a playoff push in 2019.
The most important position they must divert their attention to right now is the catcher spot. As most baseball followers are aware, catching has been one of the Mets’ biggest weaknesses.
Not only has their trio of Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki, and Tomas Nido been ineffective and underwhelming, but they always seem to be plagued with injuries. The Mets have expressed great interest in Miarmi Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
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Realmuto was arguably the best catcher in the Majors in 2018 and is the Marlins’ best player, so the team will want a great deal in return, and understandably so. It appears as if acquiring Realmuto will be difficult, so they may have to explore other options.
An under-the-radar catcher that would be a great fit for the Mets is Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Reds.
Barnhart is, hands down, one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He is a Gold Glove winner and finished the 2018 season with a .998 fielding percentage, tying future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina.
In 991 innings behind the plate this past season, he notched a phenomenal 871 putouts, 53 assists, and four double plays while committing only two errors and four passed balls.
He is also a consistently solid offensive player. In 2018 he slashed .248/.328/.372 in 522 PA with 21 doubles, 3 triples, and 46 RBIs.
These numbers are not particularly breathtaking nor are they as good as Realmuto’s, but they are solid and much better than all three catchers that the Mets used in 2018.
It is also important to note that the Reds are not a good team, so Barnhart’s numbers could improve on a better offensive roster. New York could use a solid right-handed bat like Barnhart’s in their lineup.
What makes Barnhart even more appealing is that he is 27 years old and entering his prime. He would also be a cheaper option if they, in fact, do seek to pursue him. He is on a 4 year/$16,000,000 contract with the Reds and will become a free agent in 2023.
A trade with the Reds for Barnhart could be quite plausible because the Mets would not have to give up much in a trade.
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Some solid prospects should do the trick and it would end up being worth it for the Mets, who desperately need a solid catcher to complete the puzzle. Acquiring Barnhart would allow them to finally set realistic sights on going all the way in 2019.