Cincinnati Reds Rumors – team re-focuses on veteran catchers as the choices dwindle

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds have pivoted back towards looking for a back-up veteran catcher with the choices dwindling.

The Cincinnati Reds have been eyeing several veteran catchers all off-season long.  It appeared that they may have been looking to stay young, but they lost Juan Graterol to a waiver claim when they claimed Richie Shaffer off of waivers.

The primary rumor was that the Reds were interested in bringing back former Red Ryan Hanigan before he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Hanigan only played 35 games last year with the Boston Red Sox, batting .171.  2016 was the first time in Hanigan’s career that his OBP wasn’t at least 300.

The next name that was on the list was Chris Iannetta before he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Iannetta shared the starting catching role last year in Seattle.  He batted .210 with 7 home runs over 94 games.

A third name that has come and gone a few times during this off-season is former Minnesota Twins starting catcher, Kurt Suzuki.  Suzuki played 106 games for the Twins last year, as he was replaced as the everyday catcher.  Suzuki’s specialty has always been defense over offense and may top the Reds’ list for now.

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Another possibility is part-time Fox Sports contributor, AJ Pierzynski.  Like Hanigan, Pierzynski is used to being a back-up having only played 81 games last year.  Right now, Pierzynski is deciding whether or not it is time for him to retire.

Beyond the usual suspects, there were other catchers the Cincinnati Reds could have signed to team up with Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart.

The name that has come off of the list most lately is Nick Hundley of the San Francisco Giants.  He has been a starter for both the San Diego Padres and the Rockies.  In 2016 his missed time due to injuries and effectively lost the starting job to Tony Wolters.

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Hundley owns 72 career home runs over nine MLB seasons with the Padres and Rockies.  He has batted .250 with an OBP of .303 over 746 career games.  It is a veteran with experience such as this that the Reds would love to add to their catching mix.

The other name taken from the list recently is Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitting catcher that bounces from team to team.  In 2016 he backed up James McCann for the Detroit Tigers.

Over his career Saltalamacchiahas batted .234 with an OBP of .309 and a SLG of .413.

Even though Saltalamacchia has a reputation as an offensive catcher, his SLG is only slightly higher than Hundley’s, but Saltalamacchia has 110 homers over 10 MLB seasons.  Saltalamacchia is probably still looking for an opportunity to start with the Toronto Blue Jays, but hasn’t been a true starter for a complete season since 2014 for the Miami Marlins.

Next: Look at the prospects coming through the pipeline for the Reds

Any of these catchers would have helped to fill out the catcher position in Cincinnati.  Each would have brought a different set of skills and experience.  Whomever the Reds end up with needs to be ready to deal with a young staff.  He will have an uncertain role heading into spring training.