Would Alex Avila have been signed? Would Jonathan Lucroy had been signed? Would Rene Rivera have needed to be signed? If the Washington Nationals knew Tres Barrera was going to hit like this, would they have just gone with him as the backup catcher from Opening Day on?
Well, the answer is probably no, they wouldn’t have. Going back to that December press conference when Nationals brass said, expect Yan Gomes to catch 100-110 games this year, they knew Barrera was just going to be organizational depth and a minor league call-up in time of need. Has he proven he can handle more?
The Nationals have needed stability at the position, especially with Gomes going on the Injured List. They have gotten it, in the form of a 26 year old, rookie catcher.
Nationals catcher Tres Barrera has held his own in the absence of Yan Gomes.
Barrera was a sixth round draft pick in 2016, and has sat on the Nationals Top 30 Prospects list multiple years. Entering 2021, Barrera had just two plate appearances at the Major League level, and was most known for his 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing substance.
Avila was signed to back up Gomes, probably with little thought of giving the duties to Barrera. When Avila entered COVID protocols to begin the season, Lucroy was signed, with Barrera receiving just two at-bats in the mean time. Lucroy was DFAed, and when Avila went down with an injury recently, veteran Rivera was signed. Yes, mainly to have a more veteran presence over rookie Jakson Reetz (who hadn’t played above A-Ball prior to the season), but to handle the majority of the catching duties ahead of Barrera.
With a hot bat, Barrera has shown he can handle playing every day, and that Rivera should be backing him up. Tres has nine hits in 27 at bats, with four of the extra-base variety. I don’t want to hear the sample size is small. I don’t want to hear he’s hitting off sub-par pitchers. His youthful energy has been exciting to see, and seeing him run around the bases with enthusiasm has had a similar effect to Gerardo Parra’s mood lightening antics.
Jumping on bandwagons is easy when players get hot for a short spell. I’ve done it with Brock Holt. I’ve done it with Andrew Stevenson. I’ve done it with Yadiel Hernandez. I’ve done it with Paolo Espino. I’m doing it with Tres Barrera because it’s fun to see a kid get an opportunity and make the most of it.
Baseball is more than just a 26-man roster, and the Nationals have employed six catchers at different points this year. Had they given Tres Barrera a shot from the get-go, maybe that number would be cut in half. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20.