Cincinnati Reds' catcher Devin Mesoraco breaks his silence to lay claim to starting job
The Cincinnati Reds’ catcher, Devin Mesoraco, broke his months long silence to assert that he is the starting catcher.
In 2014 Devin Mesoraco was one of the Cincinnati Reds’ All-Stars earning comparisons to Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. During the two years since, Mesoraco has only played 39 games. In 2015 the Reds toyed with the idea of playing Mescoraco in the outfield, but quickly gave up that idea.
Now the Reds have another issue. Who is the starting catcher in Cincinnati? Mesoraco hasn’t been able to stay healthy, while Tucker Barnhart has slowed down the second half of each of the past two seasons.
Mesoraco broke his silence at Redsfest. In 2014 he signed a four year, $28-million contract extension. The last two years of the deal will pay him over $20-million.
That is starter money and Mesoraco sees 2017 as his last chance to establish himself as the starter for the Reds. He’s excited to start catching drills as he spent much of 2016 getting healthy again. Mesoraco has torn three of the four labrums in his body with only his left shoulder being spared so far.
Mesoraco feels that his offense makes him an automatic start when healthy. He is confident that he can win back his position. Manager Bryan Price is less committal, as he worries that Mesoraco is unable to take on a full-time load.
The Cincinnati Reds have surrounded Barnhart and Mesoraco with depth through the minors and Rule 5 Draft.
The Reds selected Stuart Turner with the top pick in round 2 of the Rule 5 Draft. Turner was a third round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2013 who had seemingly maxed out in Double-A. Turner is a defensive stalwart with high OBP upside.
The Reds also signed former Miami Marlins starting catcher Rob Brantly to a minor league deal with an invite to camp. Brantly had a good 2012 season as a back-up before being unable to effectively contribute offensively in 2013 and 2015. Brantly spent the 2016 season with the Seattle Mariners’ team in Tacoma.
The Reds also looked at free agent catchers prior to the Winter Meetings. With the drafting of Turner, those options are less likely, but still present. They may depend on what the Reds’ see as the likelihood that Mesoraco makes to opening day in one piece.
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Mesoraco may see himself as the starter, but his injuries have made the catching position a mess. It was nice for the Reds to find a diamond in the rough in Barnhart, but a true starter would be even nicer. Mesoraco and the rest of the options need to come to spring training ready to prove themselves to Price and the front office.
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