Former Detroit Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart has signed a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Barnhart signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs before last season but was released after appearing in only 47 games. The fact that the Cubs are still paying his salary (except for the league minimum for which Arizona would be responsible) could make Barnhart an attractive and cheap backup option.
Gabriel Moreno, the D’backs starting catcher, is only 23.
Barnhart, who turns 33 this week, was acquired by the Tigers before the 2022 season in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. The two-time Gold Glove winner had always been an adequate hitter for a catcher, but his offensive production and his power dropped off dramatically in 2022. He couldn’t stop the decline with the Cubs, posting just a .541 OPS (48 OPS) in 123 plate appearances.
Another former catcher signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers last week.
Andrew Knapp, 32, came to spring training with the Tigers and spent part of last season with Triple-A Toledo before being released. He finished the year with the Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate.
Knapp has spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues, including four seasons as the semi-regular backup catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2017-2021.
But he hit just .128 (5-for-39) in limited action with three separate teams in 2022 and has not yet made it back to the big leagues.
Knapp is likely slated for Triple-A Round Rock with the Rangers, although it’s possible he could compete with Sam Huff for the backup job behind Jonah Heim.
Knapp’s departure from the Tigers’ organization was hastened by the impending arrival of Dillon Dinger at Triple-A Toledo. Dingler, now added to the 40-man roster, will likely be the Tigers’ third catcher in Toledo while Jake Rogers and Carson Kelly handle duties in Detroit. Dingler could be paired with veteran Anthony Bemboom, who signed a minor-league deal last month.
The Tigers also recently signed former University of Michigan catcher Christian Molfetta, who could be a candidate for Double-A Erie.
Molfetta, 27, began his career at Stanford before transferring to Ann Arbor. He’s spent most of the last three seasons in the Los Angeles Angels organization.