The Cubs announced Saturday morning that they were designating veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart for assignment. Barnhart, 32, essentially became the third catcher on the team. He had only played in seven games since July 19th, and his playing time seemed to be impacted by the absence of Marcus Stroman. With Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya ahead of him, and Stroman sidelined, there just was no need for a light-hitting third catcher going forward.
Barnhart was signed in the offseason as a free agent. He is yet another veteran who signed this past offseason and is either no longer on the MLB team or with the organization.
The Cubs recently released Trey Mancini, who was signed to a two-year deal. Earlier in the year the Cubs released Eric Hosmer, who was brought in on league minimum while the massive deal the Padres gave him was still being owed to him. Neither Hosmer nor Mancini posted an OPS above .635 with the Cubs this year. Do not forget the Cubs also signed utility man Edwin Rios, who went 2-28 before going down to Iowa. A few weeks ago he was outrighted, so he is off the 40-man roster. Hopefully, veteran reliever Brad Boxberger can return from injury and provide something because that's another potentially ineffective signing from the offseason.
Safe to say much of the veteran depth the Cubs signed this offseason did not pan out. The good news is the Cubs are realizing the issues and addressing them. What's frustrating is that games had to be lost to realize it. Hopefully, some of these moves did not come too late. It's too early to officially declare that but if the Cubs don't make the postseason, these are things fans will be thinking about.
There were reasons to question why some of these moves were made in the first place. Financially it makes sense to bring in cheap "bridge" players, but preaching about being competitive and relying on a lot of over-the-hill players warrants questioning. Especially with the number of productive players on the market that could have been had on short-term deals. Mancini was coming off an 18-homer, 103 OPS+ season so that was a bit more defensible, but Hosmer and Barnhart were well past their best playing days.
Obviously bringing in cheap veteran depth is what every organization does. That said the argument can be made that the Cubs began the season too dependent on it. Certainly do wish the likes of Hosmer, Mancini, and Barnhart well as they all seemed like great teammates but you pay for production in the box score. In the long run beyond this year, this won't drastically alter things for the worse and the arrow is pointing up, it would just be a bummer if this season would end up feeling like a missed opportunity.