Boston Red Sox trade target: Brayan Pena


Just who is Brayan Pena?

Pena, primarily a catcher, now toils for his fourth MLB team the Cincinnati Reds. Pena has an American League pedigree with Kansas City and Detroit and four years of limited service in Atlanta. Pena is 32 years old and build like a barrel with legs. Pena, a Cuban native, will be a free agent in 2016 and is currently under a team friendly 1.4M contract for 2015.

For the Reds the bulk of the catching duties are in the capable hands of Devin Mesoraco with strong armed (42% CS) Tucker Barnhart in the wings for the backup chores. Both Mesoraco and Tucker and under team control for several years. With that potential gifted duo the Reds have given Pena some time at first base.

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For Boston Christian Vazquez is now number one on the leader board for 2015. Vazquez has impressed with his savvy defense and game calling skills. For backup David Ross has provided the defensive part, but the offensive has seen his two-year stay with an average under .200. Ross’ contract is up and his age, 38, is now a factor.

Blake Swihart has also been rising up the minor league ladder and is also drawing attention for his improving defensive skills and his hitting ability. Swihart moved on to Pawtucket where in a small sample he slashed .261/.282/.377 and projects to spend another season at 3A. The 22-year-old Swihart will make spring training of 2016 very interesting if his minor league development continues.

But what about 2015?

The baseball jury is still out on Vazquez’ ability to hit. Will it be .250? Higher? Lower? The best option would be to bring in an experienced catcher who has some ability with the bat. That means Pena. Pena also is no slouch defensively with a career 30% CS and from the Reds fans I have talked with is a capable defensive player.

Pena has a career slash line of .258/.293/.360. Pena, despite his physical presence, is not a significant power threat with 23 career home runs in 1432 at bats. The plus is Pena does not strike out that often. This season Pena has sat down 37 times in over 300 at bats. Not bad. For comparison Ross has gone “Bellhorn” 55 times in 144 at bats.

What would it take to get Pena?

I certainly would not package an élite prospect unless it was an expanded deal for someone like Johnny Cueto – a distinct possibility. For a stand-alone the Reds have some needs after sinking to under .500. Aug 29, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (16) singled during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds are 13th in the National League in runs scored so a bit more offense may be just what a GM might put on his wish list. Would a Will Middlebrooks do it?

Middlebrooks at this point has played himself out of Boston and maybe a fresh start could jump-start his career.

Pena could provide that experienced one year bridge to Swihart and Middlebrooks could get the opportunity to rebuild his career in Cincinnati. A nice deal for both teams.

One name the pops up in a career comparison is Bob Montgomery who provided backup duties in Boston for ten seasons. Monty was a capable defensive catcher with a nice career .258 average