Reds add catcher Brayan Pena

The Reds have agreed to terms with former Tigers backup catcher Brayan Pena on a two-year contract, MLB.com confirmed on Friday.

The deal, which was first reported by ESPN Deportes, is pending a physical. The Reds have made no formal announcements.

Exact terms of the contract are not known, but Pena is expected to get a raise from the $865,000 he made last season with Detroit.

Pena, who will turn 32 in January, is a native of Havana, Cuba. Over 71 games in 2013, he batted .296 with four home runs and 22 RBIs.

In the big leagues since 2005, Pena has also played for the Braves and Royals. Lifetime, he is batting .258 with a .292 on-base percentage 18 homers and 120 RBIs over 406 Major League games.

Cincinnati currently has two catchers under club control on its 40-man roster. Veteran Ryan Hanigan is headed for his third-year of arbitration eligibility and Devin Mesoraco just completed his second season in the Majors and is a year away from arbitration eligibility. What Pena’s addition means for the incumbent catchers is still unknown.

UPDATE: Click here for my complete story on MLB.com

26 Comments

Obviously a precursor to something else. I wonder which current catcher is going elsewhere.

I have to think that in trying to upgrade the offense, Hannigan is probably gone. If that is the case, it says a lot about how the organization feels about Mesoraco’s fielding/game calling. Hannigan has helped this pitching staff grow to be one of the best.

I actually like the duo of Hanigan and Mes, with Mes getting the majority. This is very curious and who know you is gone. Cant see it being Mes – Cheaper and higher upside offensively but who knows what the return could be. Should be able to get young CF or 2B.

Quite a perplexing move. The team is very high on Mesoraco, and he’s only 25; Hanigan is 33. Mesoraco isn’t hitting what the team thought he could, yet…
2012 – 165 AB – 5 HR – 14 RBI – .212/.288/.352/.640
2013 – 323 AB – 9 HR – 42 RBI – .238/.287/.362/.649
…but his play behind the plate excelled considerably, as he handled the pitching
staff well and is better than average with the leather, calling a game and plate blocking. Also, he did a 180 when it came to throwing would-be stealers out; 20% in 2012 (39 SB/10 CS) to 29% in 2013 (45 SB/18 CS). Mesoraco makes minimum salary and is eligible for ARB in 2015, FA in 2018.

I think Pena may well be a bench player or sent down at start of season. What is going for the guy is that he has some power, gets on base and plays, not only C, but
1B, 3B, LF and RF. Have a feeling we keep both our C’s as planned previously. After all, there is a reason we have one of the best SP and BP staffs in all of MLB, and with another year under Mesoraco’s cap, we should be that much stronger…especially with Hanigan mentoring the future fulltime C.

Cannot pay that much for a Louisville catcher

Certainly not full time. Pena made $875k last season and is a FA. Can’t see him making too much more as he just hasn’t put up the numbers; nobody has ever played him much overall. I can easily see him as a bench player at bit more than his $875k. Sending him down to triple A would only be for a short time; until and if another move at C didn’t take place before the beginning of the season. However, the more I think about it, the more I think he’s prime for one of the five bench riders. BTW…he’s also a switch hitter. On the other hand, Hanigan is ARB for 2014 and a FA in 2015, and now makes $2.05m; just find it hard to believe that they would let such a talented C leave under any circumstances, and Mesoraco is the future fixture, or so we have been lead to believe.

Choo Seeking To Exceed Werth’s $126MM Contract
By Jeff Todd [November 9, 2013 at 12:46pm CST]
MLB Trade Rumors

Outgoing Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is being shopped above the seven-year, $126MM contract inked by Jayson Werth with the Nationals before the 2011 season, reports ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The Scott Boras client, who is unquestionably one of the game’s most attractive open market commodities, has long been rumored to be looking for nine figures, though a report yesterday said he was asking more in the $90MM range.

The Werth comparison does make sense, so far as it goes. Both Werth and Choo hit the market in their early thirties, coming off of high-OBP, mid-140-OPS+ campaigns. Werth has shown somewhat more pop, while Choo reaches base like few others. Each is regarded as a solid glove in the corner outfield. But as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained in profiling Choo, the Werth contract has been viewed as a non-precedential deal. Hence, he predicts, Choo will probably get something more like six years and $100MM. Of course, contextual perception is important; with Werth coming off of an outstanding year, Boras may be able to argue that the contract is hardly the albatross it has been characterized as.

Whether or not Boras can land a Werth-sized deal, there is little question that Choo is hitting free agency at an opportune time. The remaining corner outfield market is thin, Choo returned to his earlier-career levels of performance last year, and new TV money could provide a boost in salaries around the game.

By Mark Polishuk [November 8, 2013 at 8:13pm CST]
MLB Trade Rumors

The Reds signed catcher Max Ramirez to a minor league deal with an invite to Cincinnati’s Spring Training camp, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Ramirez has played for seven different organizations over a 10-year minor league career, including playing for the Royals’ Triple-A club in 2012-13. The 29-year-old has 140 career Major League PA, with the Rangers in 2008 and 2010. This is the second catching move the Reds have made today after their acquisition of Brayan Pena.

Reds Likely To Move Ryan Hanigan
By Steve Adams [November 8, 2013 at 10:00am CST]
MLB Trade Rumors

The Reds have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent Brayan Pena, giving them three catchers on their 40-man roster: Pena, Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan. It appears that Hanigan is the odd man out, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from a source that Hanigan is likely to be moved (Twitter link). ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that the Rays and Yankees, two teams with question marks at catcher this offseason, have liked Hanigan in the past.

Hanigan, 33, struggled through the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Hanigan to earn $2.3MM through arbitration this offseason, which should be a cheap enough sum for interested parties to take on. The main culprit in Hanigan’s poor season appears to have been a .216 batting average on balls in play. That number figures to trend back toward his career mark of .283, especially when considering that Hanigan’s batted-ball profile didn’t radically change in 2013. In fact, Hanigan’s 21.5 percent line-drive rate was actually a slight increase over his 2012 mark (21.2 percent) and is right in line with his career mark (21.9 percent).

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate. Detractors may point to the lofty walk rate as a product of him batting eighth in an NL lineup so often (one spot in front of the pitcher), but Hanigan’s career walk rate in more than 300 plate appearances out of the seventh slot in the order is higher than his walk rate in 1,110+ PAs in the eighth slot.

Hanigan also carries a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent). His 40 percent career mark is about 12 percentage points higher than the league average, which tends to be around 28 percent. He’s also known as one of the best in the business in terms of pitch-framing — an art he discussed at length with Ben Lindbergh for a Grantland piece back in May.

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer
Eye on Baseball
November 9, 2013 10:56 am ET
Couple more rumors…
1)…Brandon Phillips: From the sounds of things, the Reds are dead set on trading the All-Star second baseman and he’s as good as gone. His contract is pretty bad, but Phillips’ still has a big reputation as an All-Star second baseman, so the Reds may not have to eat the overwhelming majority of the contract — just a sizeable chunk. Thus far in the offseason, the Braves and Yankees have been connected to Phillips — but the latter has to be only as Plan B to losing Robinson Cano, otherwise Phillips is redundant to the Yankees roster.
2)…Dan Uggla: A Phillips-for-Uggla deal has been reportedly discussed, but I don’t understand why the Reds would do this. Billy Hamilton could be a natural in-house fit at second base. But still, it’s out there.
The second base market was mentioned above in the Phillips section, but it’s hard to see a contender looking to trade for Uggla. This one would be a pure unload by the Braves. So virtually every team could be named here. It seems rather doubtful Uggla has a starting job heading into next season.

Neb. You’re a fountain of information. Thanks

You got it! Kind of a fun time of year, eh. Thank goodness we have Jocketty at the switches. I continue to think he is a master at trades; seldom if ever do they not benefit out team.

This catcher will upgrade us on offense, we definitely missed Navarros contributions.

Back at the Phillips ranch…our fearless leader points out some interesting facts…
There are pros and cons to trading Phillips
Moving All-Star could create room for Choo but leave Reds weakened at second base
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | 11/11/2013 2:29 P.M. ET

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/cin/cincinnati-reds-must-weigh-pros-and-cons-of-trading-brandon-phillips?ymd=20131111&content_id=63778152&vkey=news_cin

(excerpt)

On the sabermetric side, Phillips ranked 12th among Major League second basemen — and fifth on the Reds — with a 2.6 wins above replacement (WAR) figure, according to Fangraphs.com. The same website listed Phillips 14th at his position with a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 91, below the league average.

Comparatively, Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter led the league’s second basemen with a 7.0 WAR and 147 wRC+ while making $504,000. Phillips was the fourth-highest-paid second baseman in the Majors at $10 million.

In 2011, the year before he signed his big contract, Phillips batted .300 with a .353 OBP, .457 slugging percentage, 5.6 WAR and 122 wRC+. As he moves past his baseball-playing prime, the Reds and his suitors must determine what might be his future production.

Defensively, it was another Gold Glove season. Phillips had a .987 fielding percentage, fifth-best in the NL, while his nine errors were the fifth fewest in the league, but his most since 2009. On the sabermetric side, Phillips was second among NL second basemen with an 8.6 ultimate zone rating (UZR), while the Cubs’ Darwin Barney led the category at 12.5. The Dodgers’ Mark Ellis led the position in defensive runs saved with 12, followed by Barney at 11. Phillips was fourth with one.

Outside the numbers, things are less cut and dry. Phillips is one of the Reds’ most popular players with the fans — both at the ballpark and in social media. He’s never turned down opportunities to attend the team’s winter caravan and often engages with fans off the field.

But there is also baggage that might give other clubs pause. In the August issue of Cincinnati Magazine, Phillips complained about his contract after Votto inked his 10-year, $225 million deal in April 2012. In a September moment caught on camera, Phillips verbally assaulted a Cincinnati newspaper reporter who had written about his low on-base percentage.

The Reds could have added motivation to move him. If he spends the 2014 season with Cincinnati, Phillips becomes a “10-and-5 player” — 10 years of big league service with at least the past five with one club — and would get no-trade protection.

Reds add hitting, pitching coaches to Bryan Price’s staff
11/12/13 at 6:14pm by C. Trent Rosecrans

Bryan Price’s coaching staff is getting closer to completion, as Jeff Pico will be join the team as pitching coach and Don Long as hitting coach, multiple sources have told the Enquirer. Pico and Long will join Jay Bell, who will serve as Price’s bench coach.

Bell served as the Pirates’ hitting coach in 2013. Bell’s hiring was first reported Monday night by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, a report that the Enquirer confirmed on Tuesday.

Like Bell, Long is a former Pirates hitting coach. Long, 51, was the Pirates hitting coach from 2008 to 2010 under former Pittsburgh manager John Russell. Bell has been the Braves’ minor league hitting coordinator since 2011.

Pico, 47, has spent the last 11 years in the Diamondbacks organization. He was the team’s minor league field coordinator each of the last two years and was pitching coordinator in 2010-2011. Pico also interviewed for the Phillies’ vacant pitching coach position.

Bell and Pico were both in the Diamondbacks organization at the same time Price was the team’s pitching coach.

“I’ve known for a long time that Jay had a professional relationship with Price,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle told Pittsburgh reporters after winning the National League Manager of the Year Award on Tuesday. “I’m all for people being happy. If Jay feels this will make him happy, if this is the next step for him, then good for him.”

Long will replace Brook Jacoby, who was the team’s hitting coach since the 2007 season. Pico replaces Price, who was, of course, promoted to manager.

Price has already said Mack Jenkins, who served as assistant pitching coach the last two seasons, would remain on his staff. The staff is not yet complete, according to sources, but could be completed soon.

Sherman On Tanaka, Reds, Chapman, Choo
By Zach Links [November 12, 2013 at 9:32am CST]

Here’s a look at the latest news courtesy of the New York Post’s Joel Sherman..

•The Reds haven’t showed their hand one way or another, but one team official believes that the ship has sailed on convincing Aroldis Chapman to pitch as a starter and the time to do it would have been last year. With Bronson Arroyo likely going elsewhere, the Reds may have to think about finding an out-of-house replacement if Chapman won’t join the rotation. It’s also possible that they could choose to stand pat and roll with a starting five of Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani.
•Don’t count the Reds out in the bidding for Shin-Soo Choo, even though the price tag could exceed $100MM. Cincinnati believes Billy Hamilton is ready to handle center field defensively, but they’d prefer he get more time in the minors to further refine his offense. If they re-sign Choo, they can have him handle center field for one more year and maybe transition him to a corner in 2015, opening up a spot for the speedy Hamilton.

Ohio Notes: Reds
By Mark Polishuk [November 11, 2013 at 11:33pm CST]
MLB Trade Rumors

•The acquisition of Brayan Pena means that the Reds “are obviously up to something” in regards to a catcher trade, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The consensus has been that Ryan Hanigan will be dealt but Fay wonders if “a major trade” is in the works that would send Devin Mesoraco elsewhere.

•Fay also notes that if the Reds trade Brandon Phillips, speedster Billy Hamilton could be a potential replacement at second base. Hamilton was originally drafted as a shortstop but was seen by some in the Reds organization as a future second baseman.

Reds finalize deal with former Tigers catcher Pena
Signing gives Cincy three backstops on 40-man roster, including Hanigan, Mesoraco
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com | 11/12/2013 8:18 P.M. ET

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/cin/cincinnati-reds-finalize-two-year-contract-with-catcher-brayan-pena?ymd=20131108&content_id=63779144&vkey=news_cin

(excerpt)
“Im happy to announce that i will be a RED for the next couple of years , and i will wear that uniform with PROUD and RESPECT.!! Thank you !”

The Reds hope Pena is the first step in the offensive improvement general manager Walt Jocketty identified as an offseason priority in an interview last week with MLB.com.

“You have to try and improve the offense,” Jocketty said. “That could be another hitter in the lineup. If we lose [Shin-Soo] Choo, we’ll have to address the leadoff situation again. There’s really no clear answer to that right now.”

Pena, who will turn 32 in January, is a native of Havana, Cuba, but now a United States citizen. Over 71 games during his lone season with the Tigers in 2013, the switch-hitter batted .297 with a .315 on-base percentage, four home runs and 22 RBIs.

Not known as much for his defense or game calling, Pena made three errors this season and had a .995 fielding percentage. He caught 24 percent of baserunners attempting to steal.

Signed to be a backup to Alex Avila, Pena boosted the Tigers while the regular catcher struggled at the plate. Pena played more regularly in June and August while Avila spent time on the disabled list.

Pena batted .397 (25-for-63) during the month of August but was used sparingly the rest of the way once Avila returned. On Oct. 30, the Tigers told Pena that he wouldn’t be brought back, and he hit the open market as a free agent.

Sounds like this guy will be chapmans catcher every 5 th day is what i get. Which means goodbye homer bailey and hello minor league talent. Bailey will be in houston, dallas area, or miami before end of winter meetings…. Mark my word on it

Hamilton getting seasoning in Puerto Rico winter ball
Mark Sheldon, MLB.com
“We sent him down there just to get more at-bats and work more on his offense,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said.
Playing for Santurce in Puerto Rico, Hamilton is batting .205 (9-for-44) with a .286 on-base percentage, five walks and nine strikeouts in 10 games through Wednesday. He is 6-for-6 in steal attempts.

Here are the MVP results:

1. Andrew McCutchen (28 first-place votes)
2. Paul Goldschmidt
3. Yadier Molina (2 first-place votes)
4. Matt Carpenter
5. Freddie Freeman
6. Joey Votto
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Hanley Ramirez
9. Carlos Gomez
10. Jay Bruce
11. Craig Kimbrel
12. Shin-Soo Choo
13. Jayson Werth
14. Andrelton Simmons
15. Yasiel Puig
16. Hunter Pence
17. Troy Tulowitzki
18. Allen Craig
19. Adrian Gonzalez
20. Buster Posey
21. Adam Wainwright
22. Matt Holliday
23. Russell Martin

Seems obvious…when we have a team and players that represent 25% of the top 12 MVP voting, that we should have made it farther into the playoffs. This has to be corrected as we are spending our youth and talent as every year clicks by. These three voted on players don’t grow on trees…

Reds Likely To Move Ryan Hanigan
By Steve Adams [November 15, 2013 at 7:42am CST]
MLB Trade Rumors

NOV. 15: Hanigan “is going to be traded,” tweets Olney. Multiple teams are interested in Hanigan, and the Reds feel they can get a good prospect in exchange, Olney adds.

NOV. 8: The Reds have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent Brayan Pena, giving them three catchers on their 40-man roster: Pena, Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan. It appears that Hanigan is the odd man out, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from a source that Hanigan is likely to be moved (Twitter link). ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that the Rays and Yankees, two teams with question marks at catcher this offseason, have liked Hanigan in the past.

Hanigan, 33, struggled through the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Hanigan to earn $2.3MM through arbitration this offseason, which should be a cheap enough sum for interested parties to take on. The main culprit in Hanigan’s poor season appears to have been a .216 batting average on balls in play. That number figures to trend back toward his career mark of .283, especially when considering that Hanigan’s batted-ball profile didn’t radically change in 2013. In fact, Hanigan’s 21.5 percent line-drive rate was actually a slight increase over his 2012 mark (21.2 percent) and is right in line with his career mark (21.9 percent).

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate. Detractors may point to the lofty walk rate as a product of him batting eighth in an NL lineup so often (one spot in front of the pitcher), but Hanigan’s career walk rate in more than 300 plate appearances out of the seventh slot in the order is higher than his walk rate in 1,110+ PAs in the eighth slot.

Hanigan also carries a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent). His 40 percent career mark is about 12 percentage points higher than the league average, which tends to be around 28 percent. He’s also known as one of the best in the business in terms of pitch-framing — an art he discussed at length with Ben Lindbergh for a Grantland piece back in May.
`

From MLB Trade Rumors
•There are a host of new minor league deals out of Cincinnati, with the Reds inking lefty Lee Hyde, second baseman Rey Navarro, outfielder Mike Wilson, and catchers Rossmel Perez and Max Ramirez. Hyde, a 28-year-old former fourth-round pick, returns to the Cinci organization after a 1.98 ERA campaign in 54 2/3 innings spent mostly in Double-A. Navarro and Perez just played their age-23 seasons at Double-A. Wilson registered a sightly .300/.368/.472 slash in his age-thirty season at Triple-A in the Padres’ organization. And Ramirez had a poor season at 28 years of age after putting up two straight better-than-.800 OPS years at the Triple-A level.

From MLB Trader.com

This has everything to do with us; let’s follow…

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is prepared to wait things out in order to get the deal he wants, a person close to Cano tells John Harper of the New York Daily News. “He’s ready for this to go past Christmas, into January if necessary,” the person said. “He’s been told all along that it could take time for a market to develop for him, and he’s fine with that.”

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