Tucker Barnhart gets chance, cashes in for $16 million with Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) — Tucker Barnhart got a chance and took advantage of it.

The 26-year-old became the Reds primary catcher when Devin Mesoraco repeatedly got hurt and turned the opportunity into a $16-million, four-year contract Friday.

Barnhart, a 10th-round pick in 2009, was leading major league catchers in fielding percentage (one error) entering Friday, but the Reds knew he had great defensive skills. They weren't sure about his bat.

That turned out to be icing on the cake. Barnhart, in his second full season, was batting .272 with six homers and 42 RBIs. 

The Reds also like the way the young catcher has handled the 42 pitchers - young and old - they have used this season.

"The choice to invest in Tucker was an easy one because of all the other players on the field he impacts and touches," Reds General Manager Dick Williams said. "He just makes everyone better."

The deal covers his salary arbitration years and the first season after he would have been eligible for free agency.

Barnhart is making $575,000 and would have been eligible for salary arbitration in the offseason for the first time. He will make seven times that salary next year.

The Indianapolis native receives a $1.75 million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million next year, $2.5 million in 2019, $3.5 million in 2020 and $3.75 million in 2021. As part of the deal announced Friday, Cincinnati has a $7.5 million option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout.

Mesoraco has been limited to 95 games the last three seasons and is currently sidelined with a broken left foot. He makes $13 million next season, the last of a $28 million, four-year deal.

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