Pena’s Patriots prediction

Last week before Reds Caravan kicked off, I encountered backup catcher Brayan Pena knowing he would have a view on the upcoming Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks. Pena is an enthusiastic Patriots fan as you may guess from the quotes that follow.

“New England, baby, they’re definitely going to win it,” Pena said. “Seattle had trouble with Green Bay. New England is a much better team than Green Bay. I still believe Seattle just got lucky, to be honest with. On the onside kick, if they missed the ball, it would be a totally different game. With New England, that’s not going to happen.

“We have too many weapons to use. We can run the football. We have wide receivers. We have [Tom] Brady. We have the defense. It’s too much.”

How did Pena, who hails from Cuba, become a supporter of the Patriots?

“I’ve been a Patriot fan for years, ever since 2000 when I got here to the States,” Pena said. “The first professional athlete I met was Tom Brady. He was so humble and so kind. I had a man-crush on the guy. And his wife is Giselle — you can’t go wrong with that.”

Pena’s predicted score for a Patriots win in Glendale?

“I would say 27-20, definitely,” he said.

On Sunday during the Reds’ Select-a-Seat event at GABP, a fan asked Pena about the “deflategate” scandal that hovers over the Patriots. His reply?

“I don’t speak English,” he said, getting a laugh from the crowd.

Sheldon on MLB Now

I was invited to do a live shot Wednesday on MLB Network’s MLB Now show. We covered topics you’re likely familiar with as Reds fans — Mesoraco, Cueto, the rotation and Votto. But feel free to take a look anyway.

Details on Mesoraco contract

Full story on MLB.com: click here

Here are some details on the four-year, $28 million contract signed Monday by Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco:

Year-by-year breakdown:

2015: $2.4 million
2016: $4.9 million
2017: $7.2 million
2018: $13.0 million

Signing Bonus: $500,000

Playing Time Incentives: For every season 2015 through 2017 Mesoraco reaches 502 plate appearances, the 2018 season salary escalates $400k (maximum cap of $1.2 million)

Incentives: Mesoraco’s 2018 salary can reach an additional $150,000 for every All Star selection, Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove, an additional $200,000 for a top five in MVP voting, an additional $150,000 for placing 6-10 in MVP voting, $100,000 for placing 6th through 15th in MVP voting and $50,000 for 16-20th (maximum cap of $800,000)

The total maximum cap of escalators for the 2018 salary is $2 million — which means the deal could be worth $30 million.

One percent of his total salary ($230,000 over four years) benefits the Reds Community Fund.

Extra quotes about the signing:

“This is the only organization that I’ve ever known. It’s always been a pleasure to be part of the Reds. This was definitely something I was very excited to really go forward with.” — Devin Mesoraco

“It’s another example of the organization trying to step up and reward a young player we’re very proud of. We Drafted him out of high school. He has overcome some setbacks during his career, but not many. He’s worked really hard. It’s an example of a guy that’s worked extremely hard, has a good work ethic and the type of guy we want to build our organization around.” — Reds GM Walt Jocketty

“When he hit the way he did and caught the way he did [last season], we thought we better get him signed as soon as we can. I think it was a breakout year for him. I saw him when I first got over here and first saw him in Sarasota. When I saw him in Lynchburg, I could see he was really starting to make some change, really progressing and start to come into his own. Watching him grow through the organization is kind of the fun part of our job and develop into one of the best young catchers in the game. You try to lock those guys up and keep them part of your organization as long as you can.” — Jocketty

Four-year deal for Mesoraco

The Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco have agreed to a four-year contract on Monday, MLB.com learned from two sources. Mesoraco has already taken his physical and will sign the deal later today and have a media availability.

Terms aren’t known just yet but the deal would cover all three arbitration years and one year of free agent eligiblity.

The club has not announced a deal.

Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman remain still arbitration eligible for the Reds.

UPDATE: It’s a four-year, $28 million contract for Mesoraco, says source. Still waiting for word from the team.

Extension near for Mesoraco?

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco are nearing an agreement on a multi-year contract extension that would avoid arbitration.

Mesoraco is first-year arbitration eligible and filed for $3.6 million while the Reds offered $2.45 million. He made $525,000 last season.

“My agent came back to me a couple of times. It’s more in his hands,” Mesoraco told me during Reds Caravan last week.

Mesoraco, 26, is open to a multi-year contract and it was something general manager Walt Jocketty said had been discussed on the day salary figures were exchanged.

“Definitely, no doubt,” Mesoraco said of his desire for a multi-year deal. “I definitely enjoy it here. It’s a perfect city for me. Team-wise, I feel as comfortable as I could possibly feel.”

Louisville caravan stop 2015

It was no surprise to see a large and loud turnout Thursday for the annual Reds caravan stop in Louisville, home of the club’s Triple-A affiliate — the Bats.

The panel of Reds included CEO Bob Castellini, Joe Morgan, Brayan Pena, J.J Hoover, former reliever Scott Williamson, prospect Phillip Ervin, and Marty Brennaman.

Also of no shock: the first question of the fan Q&A was about former catcher Corky Miller, a popular player here and the only Louisville player to have his number retired at Louisville Slugger Field.

Among other tidbits:

Pena has been working out in Miami with Cuban pitcher Raisel Iglesias. “He can’t wait for Spring Training,” Pena said of Iglesias.

Castellini was asked a question about Pete Rose and whether he would be around for the All-Star Game

“You’ll definitely see Pete Rose at the All-Star Game this year,” Castellini said.

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Price confident about Votto

During the hectic Thursday morning at the Reds Hall of Fame before the launch of 2015 Reds Caravan, manager Bryan Price had another positive update about first baseman Joey Votto and the first one since Redsfest in early December.

Votto, who missed 100 games last season with a distal strain of his left quadriceps, has been monitored by Reds strength and conditioning coach Sean Marohn during the offseason.

“The last report when Sean was up in Toronto earlier this month was very, very good,” Price said. “The strength was outstanding, the stamina was good and the agility. Right now, we’re looking to hit the ground running when Joey gets to Goodyear and being able to see with our own eyes where he’s at. I’m confident that he’s going to be ready to go.”

Jason Marquis invited to camp

You can read more details on Reds.com/MLB.com, but veteran RHP Jason Marquis was signed by the Reds Wednesday to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp at Spring Training.

Marquis pitched for Reds GM Walt Jocketty rom 2004-06, when both worked for the Cardinals.

To me, this transaction falls under the low-risk, high-reward potential. Marquis did not pitch in the Majors last season after he had July 2013 Tommy John surgery (Dr. Tim Kremchek performed the procedure). He did make eight starts at the Triple-A level for the Phillies after being signed in June but was released on Aug. 31.

While the Reds are set at the top three spots, the guys competing for the Nos. 4 and 5 spots lack a lengthy track record. Marquis will have a chance to win a place in the rotation. The other candidates are Tony Cingrani, Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Dylan Axelrod and David Holmberg.

So, there is a little more intrigue added to the mix with Marquis — who will wear No. 31.

Chance for Felix Perez?

For what seems like years now, I’ve been getting emails, comments and Tweets asking me about OF Felix Perez and when he might get a chance in the big leagues with the Reds. Perez, who was signed from Cuba in 2010, has been at Triple-A Louisville since near the end of the 2011 season.

Perez had a nice season for Louisville in 2014 — batting .280/.325/.450 with 12 home runs and 74 RBIs, 29 walks and 85 strikeouts in 122 games. He had an even nicer winter ball season with Caracas in the Venezuelan league batting .360/.393/.572 with nine homers and 38 RBIs in 56 games.

For the first time this spring, the 30-year-old Perez will be in big league camp as a non-roster player. He’s a left-handed hitter and in my mind, an intriguing option for the bench. The current Reds bench — Brayan Pena, Skip Schumaker, Kristopher Negron, Eugenio Suarez and perhaps Jason Bourgeois — lacks power that could change games in the late innings. Brennan Boesch, another non-roster player, has big league experience and power and could conceivably be that guy. Donald Lutz is already on the 40-man roster and challenging for a spot — and will be out of options. Both Boesch and Lutz are left-handed hitters like Perez.

But if things break a certain way, perhaps Perez can be a factor for a 25-man roster spot with a good camp … or put himself in position to get a call-up when there is a need during the season.

Bubba Watson and Blue Wahoos

PGA golfer and two-time Masters champion now has a connection of sorts with the Reds, albeit a distant one. It was announced on Monday that Watson bought a minority ownership stake in the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

Below is a portion of the Reds affiliate’s press release:

PENSACOLA, FL – The Pensacola Blue Wahoos today announced that two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson has purchased ownership in the Minor League baseball team located on Pensacola Bay. Born in Pensacola and raised in nearby Bagdad, Bubba has been a big fan of the Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, since they moved to Pensacola. In honor of the partnership, the team will begin selling co-branded merchandise, a Bubba Dub Grilled Cheese, a double decker grilled cheese sandwich with crispy hash browns inside, and the restaurant and bar behind home plate will be renamed Bubba’s Sand Trap. Per team rules, the financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Ever since I went to my first Blue Wahoos game I have been a big fan of the team. I love the atmosphere, it’s such a great place to go with friends and family. I wish Pensacola had a team like this when I was growing up. There’s something special about pulling for the hometown team. It’s great that Quint and Rishy were willing to let me be a part of it. I look forward to a long and exciting partnership with them. I just hope Quint doesn’t get tired of my crazy ideas because I have been known to have a few. One thing I know for sure is that you won’t see me out there in a uniform playing. I already asked, and they said I can’t do that even if I own part of the team,” said Watson.

Bruce Baldwin, President of the Blue Wahoos, made the announcement earlier this afternoon at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Following the announcement, Watson took two ceremonial swings from home plate – one with his signature hot pink shafted driver and the other with a Louisville slugger. Jamie Walczak, who pitched for the Wahoos last season, threw to Watson. Bubba is no stranger to the team’s home field, throwing out ceremonial first pitches and greeting Wahoos players and fans in 2012 and 2014 after each of his Masters wins. In 2014, he even wore the famed green jacket while throwing out the first pitch.

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