Cincinnati Reds: Why It Would Be a Mistake to Trade Catcher Devin Mesoraco

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 15: Devin Mesoraco #39 of the Cincinnati Reds heads to the on deck circle during the game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park on August 15, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds left the MLB Winter Meetings last week without making any major moves, and they would be making a mistake to deal catcher Devin Mesoraco.

It is very unlikely that he will be dealt, but crazy things happen in baseball.

Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweeted last week that the Tampa Bay Rays were interested in trying to make a run at Mesoraco.

Rays, not surprisingly, still poking around for a catcher. Asked at least one team about trying to do a 3-way deal to get Mesoraco from Reds

— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 7, 2012

Despite a disappointing rookie season that resulted in him being sent down to the minors in August, Mesoraco showed some promise.

As a catcher, he had to deal with learning how to handle different pitchers at the major league level. He was a very good defensive catcher. He had only three passed balls in his first season with the team, and the Reds benefited from a great duo behind the plate.

Ryan Hanigan played the majority of the games, and his play made it difficult for Mesoraco to get consistent playing time. He led the majors in lowest stolen base percentage against (via MLB.com) and led this pitching staff to one of the lowest Earned Run Averages in all of baseball despite playing at Great American Ball Park.

Although Hanigan will continue to be the main catcher, the Reds need someone who can catch one or two times out of every five games or fill in if Hanigan gets hurt.

The team does not have a lot of depth at the position in the minor leagues, so it is important that Cincinnati allows Mesoraco to develop and learn from one of the best in the majors.

He can improve at throwing runners out, but part of the blame falls on the pitcher. Other than that, the 24-year-old is on his way to becoming a great defensive catcher.

Mesoraco can improve at the plate, but he still has plenty of time to start hitting. Catching in the big leagues is difficult, so it was important for him to establish himself in the field first.

The right-handed hitting catcher hit .300 in April while playing about two out of every five games. It was by far his best month at the plate.

Hitting with runners in scoring position was a major problem for Mesoraco. He hit .111 in those situations, and he only managed 14 RBI in 54 games. In order for him to be effective, he will need to improve those numbers.

He hit around .300 in his last two seasons in the minors after struggling in his first few seasons, so there is potential for him to adjust. The catcher also has some pop in his bat but did not have many chances to display it at Great American Ball Park.

Through all of his offensive struggles, he has only played in 72 games with the Reds. It is way too early to give up on someone with his talent. Cincinnati traded away Yasmani Grandal last offseason because management believed Mesoraco was a better fit.

Mesoraco brings passion to the field every game. He gets upset when his team loses, which can be a good thing. The rookie wasn't afraid to stick up for his pitchers either, even if it led to a suspension that cost him a spot on the postseason roster.

With the team's 10-game winning streak on the line, the catcher stuck up for his pitchers and argued with the home plate ump despite his team being blown out. He made contact with the ump and got tossed. The incident led to a suspension and demotion, which kept him from regaining any consistent playing time. It was an ugly event, but it showed that he cared.

Tampa Bay may need a catcher, but the Reds need Mesoraco to help Hanigan out.

Getting rid of Mesoraco would be a mistake. Hanigan is getting older and may need more days off in order to keep him producing. Mesoraco now has experience under his belt and can begin to improve his game.

The former first-round pick handled himself well while playing for a division winner, and the Reds have the ability to be patient with him.