Reds in 2013: The Catchers


I think I have an idea what you’re thinking. The other players had their own post, so why can’t Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco each have one? Kinda tricky to answer that, but after you read this, I hope you have an understanding. Do I ever hope you do…

Jul 30, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Mesoraco is held back by manager Dusty Baker after being thrown out of the game for arguing with umpire Chad Fairchild. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

Prior to the start of last season, the Reds dealt one of their two big catching prospects in Yasmani Gandal to the San Diego Padres as part of the Mat Latos trade. The Reds brass elected to keep Devin Mesoraco. There were rumblings that Grandal had not displayed the defense the organization desired. There was the fact that Mesoraco was coming off an offensive season in 2011 in which the Reds had long awaited. It could also be argued that more could be gotten from sending Grandal in a package.

Take your pick there, huh? I said before I liked that the Reds kept Mes. Love his passion. Got in trouble for it, as you see from the pic, but, hey, you live and you learn.

Unlike others in my look at the Reds for next season, I won’t include the usual table of lifetime stats. That’s because you don’t need to look at them to determine the roles that Hanigan and Mesoraco will take for 2013. If it goes similar to 2012, Hanigan will get most of the playing time and Mesoraco will be the #2.

But could a change be in the offering for 2013? As I have also referenced in this series, the Bill James projections (via Fangraphs) think the tide will be flowing in a different direction for the Reds backstops.

These projections suggest that the roles for Hanigan and Mesoraco will flip in 2013, a direct contrast from last season when Hanigan played in 112 games while Mesoraco saw the field in only 54. Sure, there were reasons, I suppose. According to James, Mes will be the top guy while Hanigan is the “backup”. I guess this goes on to provide even more evidence that Hanigan simply does not receive the credit he so richly deserves.

Aug 19, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Hanigan hits the game winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning driving in the winning run against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Cubs 5-4. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe this is why I didn’t do a separate post…

I can see Mesoraco having a little more playing time in 2013, but not this much. He’s been labeled as the catcher of the future. He’s got to learn the whole craft at some point, but is 2013 the time to slowly ease into that switch? Possibly, but not to the extreme these projections show. I can see Hanigan floating back to his games played from some previous seasons (90, 70, and 91 from ’09-’11).

2013 should show a true splitting of time between Hanigan and Mesoraco or something close. The Reds are in a great position for the catching position as they do have, should they choose, two more years of Hanigan even though his current contract is up after 2013. There’s an arbitration year for 2014 before Hanigan can become a free agent. Mesoraco isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2015 and cannot become a free agent until 2018.

The Reds front office has at least a couple of years to determine which direction to take. All the while, Tucker Barnhart is honing his craft.

(Catch other entries from the “Reds in 2013” series:
Joey Votto
Brandon Phillips
Jay Bruce
Shin-Soo Choo
Ryan Ludwick
Todd Frazier)