The Cincinnati Reds won’t be going out of their way to overpay for a Brian McCann or trade for a Miguel Montero, because the Reds don’t need to do so — not as long as they have Devin Mesoraco.
Mesoraco is having a breakout season for the Reds this year with 20 bombs and 61 RBIs in just 77 games, including 73 starts behind the plate. While the Reds rightfully expected Mesoraco to hit for power and eventually become a run producer, the degree to which he has become a power hitter seemingly overnight has been surprising.
During his two years as the primary backup to Ryan Hanigan (plus a cup of coffee during his first year), Mesoraco had 16 homers with 62 runs knocked in over the course of a total of 589 at-bats. He’s obviously ramped up the power in his first year as the Reds’ primary catcher, and would undoubtedly have even bigger numbers if not for two stints on the DL this year.
As a first-round pick by the Reds out of high school in 2007, the Reds took their time to develop Mesoraco. He produced just a .794 OPS during a seven-year minor league career that was up-and-down. But when the time came for the Reds to include a catcher in the deal that brought Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres before the start of the 2012 season, the Reds opted to trade another first-round catcher, Yasmani Grandal, instead of Mesoraco.
Mesoraco is now 26 years old and entering the prime of his career, as well as his first year of salary arbitration eligibility in 2015. He’ll reap the financial benefits of his breakout season but will still be affordable for the small-market Reds, who deserve credit for correctly evaluating Mesoraco’s talent and being patient with him in his development as an All-Star catcher.
He’ll likely be the cleanup hitter for the team over the next three years while he remains under the Reds’ control.