The Cincinnati Reds thought about bringing back Ryan Hanigan to solidify their catching position.
The Cincinnati Reds know what they would have been getting if they had signed former Red Ryan Hanigan, an elite framer of pitchers and someone who can get on base consistently. That is about all Hanigan is at this point in his career. He had an injury plagued 2016, which is the only reason that he ended up signing a minor league deal.
In a surprise move before the 2014 the Reds traded Hanigan to the Tampa Bay Rays. This the same off-season that the Reds jettisoned manager Dusty Baker and pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Devin Mesoraco was an All-Star catcher that year and the position has been a mess ever since.
Hanigan’s defense for the Boston Red Sox was no better than Tucker Barnhart’s in 2016. They both cost their team three runs, but Hanigan’s CERA was much better. Hanigan’s CERA was 3.55 compared to Barnhart’s 5.04.
CERA, or catcher’s ERA, is not a complete story teller for how catchers handle their staffs, but it is a great place to start. Boston’s ERA was 4.00, while Cincinnati’s was 4.91. That means that the pitchers did better with Hanigan behind the plate, while the Reds did worse with Barnhart behind the plate.
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That’s what would have made Hanigan a good choice to bring in as another catcher, he could have taught Barnhart and Mesoraco. Brayan Pena was the back-up catcher in 2014 and the Reds didn’t make the playoffs. Successful veterans can mean something more than just their numbers.
The Cincinnati Reds’ roster lacks both veterans and an everyday catcher as the team gets ready for spring training.
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Hanigan fit the bill as a veteran and a mentor for Barnhart and Mesoraco. He doesn’t fit the bill as a starting catcher. If Hanigan had come back, he could have partnered up with Homer Bailey or maybe whichever youngster won the number five spot in the roster as his personal catcher.
The Reds need Mesoraco to resume his starting role back or for Barnhart to take another step forward in 2017 for the team to move forward. Barnhart has done a yeoman’s job lately, but no catcher watched more home runs leave the park from behind home plate last year than Barnhart. Whether it’s his pitch selection or framing, something needs to get better.
On the days he didn’t start Hanigan would have been the last guy off of the bench or a late-inning defensive replacement. Want to talk about a high leverage reliever? How about a high leverage situation catcher?
Bring in your high leverage catcher. That is a catcher coming into the game mid-inning with the teams close. Hanigan is veteran enough and has a high enough OBP that an idea like that could have worked.
Hanigan would have made a great addition to the Reds. The hope is that the Reds have an even better option. After signing Shawn Zarraga, the Reds feel they have a better option than the Philadelphia Phillies added by signing Hanigan. In any case, it will be tough to start spring training with their current collection of catchers.