In a surprising move ahead of Saturday afternoon's game against the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago Cubs have designated catcher Tucker Barnhart for assignment, recalling utility player Miles Mastrobuoni in a corresponding move, the team announced.
The roster move follows a rough patch that the Cubs have hit this week, losing three of their past four games as they look to rebound and even the series against the last-place Royals.
Barnhart, 32, was signed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract ahead of the season with a player option for next year as well, with the Cubs envisioning Barnhart in a platoon role with Yan Gomes, if not a solid backup.
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Unfortunately for both parties, Barnhart's tenure with the North Siders has been rather forgettable, as Barnhart has significantly struggled in limited playing time this season, with his opportunities greatly impeded by the emergence of Miguel Amaya.
Barnhart was just 22-for-109 this season, totaling four extra base-hits and a .202/.285/.257 slash line, amounting to a 47 OPS+.
A two-time Gold Glove award winner, Barnhart's defense was looked at to be a plus regardless of the production at the plate, but even that did not fully pan out this season for the veteran backstop.
Barnhart registered a -0.1 defensive WAR this season, lagging behind the defensive output of both Gomes and Amaya.
With the Cubs still on the hook for his salary this season, Barnhart will likely look to find an opportunity to provide catching depth for another club and rebound offensively.
As for Mastrobuoni, the 27-year-old utility man comes back up to Wrigley for his fifth stint with the big league team this season.
A perfect 10-for-10 on stolen bases, Mastrobuoni is hitting .212/.297/.273 across 113 plate appearances in 42 games with the Cubs this season, with three doubles and one home run.
In addition to a brief pitching appearance, Mastrobuoni has played five different positions (LF, 3B, SS, RF, 2B) with the Cubs in 2023, offering the club more positional versatility as Mastrobuoni and recently-acquired Jeimer Candelario are on the big league roster at the same time.
The Cubs will look to even up their interleague series with the Royals on Saturday, with first pitch from Wrigley Field at 1:20 p.m. local time.