Cubs add former Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart
The Cubs have their catching tandem.
The Cubs have reached terms with veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart on a two-year deal. The 31-year-old is familiar with the Cubs, as he was drafted by the Reds in 2009, debuted with them in 2014 and played with the organization through 2021. He spent the 2022 season with the Tigers. To make room on the 40-man roster for Barnhart, the Cubs designated P.J. Higgins for assignment.
Known for his defense and game-calling — he won a pair of Gold Gloves in 2017 and 2020 — Barnhart has still posted a respectable .245/.320/.360 slash line across his career.
The Cubs were seeking another veteran catcher to partner with Yan Gomes and found their target in Barnhart.
“[It’s] another position where there’s gonna be injuries — you think about your catching depth,” Hoyer said earlier this month at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
It’s no secret the Cubs have made the pivot to emphasizing game calling, strategy and defense in the catcher position, hence their desire to move on from long-time catcher Willson Contreras and rely on Gomes and, now, Barnhart as their backstop.
Last season, his first with the Cubs, Gomes had a 3.72 catcher’s ERA and Barnhart had a 4.05 with Detroit, working with a rotation that had only one pitcher over the age of 30.
The lefty Barnhart provides a nice platoon option for Gomes, allowing them to mix-and-match depending on their opponent and not have a drop off defensively. Barnhart has a career .611 OPS at Wrigley Field in 42 games.
Barnhart is the third former Gold Glove winner the Cubs have added this offseason, joining Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson. The Cubs have made an effort to improve their defense up the middle — catcher, shortstop, second base and center field — and they have done that this offseason.
“There are certain baseball truisims that I think are true,” Hoyer said at the Winter Meetings. “Being strong up the middle really helps, especially with the new rules. I think it’s really important to have really good defense up the middle.”