With the Pittsburgh Pirates needing to address the catcher position this offseason, long-time National League Central foe Tucker Barnhart could be a match in free agency
There are plenty of needs that the Pittsburgh Pirates have that Ben Cherington will need to attempt to address this offseason. One of the biggest needs, however, will be at the catcher position.
Currently, the Pittsburgh Pirates have four catchers on their 40-man roster that they have team control over for next season. These four catchers are Zack Collins, Jason Delay, Tyler Heineman, and Alí Sánchez. None of these four appear to be starting caliber catchers for a MBL club.
While Heineman or Sánchez could be quality backup catchers, the Pittsburgh Pirates need to add another catcher this offseason. Long-time National League Central division foe Tucker Barnhart could be a free agent who fits this bill.
The 31-year-old Barnhart is a nine-year MLB veteran. Eight of nine MLB season were spent in the NL Central with the Cincinnati Reds. Barnhart spent last season with the Detroit Tigers, and is now set to hit free agency for the first time in his career.
Barnhart is coming off one of the worst seasons of his MLB career. He hit for a .221/.287/.267 slash line with a wRC+ of 63 and OPS+ of 64 in 308 plate appearances across 98 games played last season.
In his career, Barnhart has hit for a .245/.320/.360 slash line with an 80 wRC+ in 2869 PAs. He has always been a plus defender, posting a 38.8 dWAR and +14 Defensive Runs Saved in his career behind the dish.
Long-term, catcher does not appear to be a major question mark for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis are both consensus top 100 prospects and two of the best catching prospects in baseball. However, until they arrive in the majors the Pirates will need help at the catcher position which his where Barnhart comes in.
Barnhart could also serve as a good mentor for the young catchers. Barnhart has played in the postseason and is a former Gold Glove Award winner at catcher. Throw in his near decade of experience in managing a MLB pitching staff, and Barnhart would be able to teach plenty to Rodriguez and Davis.