Cincinnati Reds: Does Ryan Hanigan Have a Future with the Team?

Scott L. HutchinsonCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 29:  Catcher Ryan Hanigan #29 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after this three run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on June 29, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Since making his MLB debut in 2007, Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan has without a doubt been a valuable asset to the Reds organization.

As both a backup catcher and a spot starter, Hanigan has proven himself to be a clutch hitter and a solid defender behind the plate.

Many baseball fans, including me, expected to see Hanigan earn more of a full-time role with the Reds once the recent trade deadline had passed, but Cincinnati elected to hold on to veteran Ramon Hernandez and keep Hanigan in his usual on-again, off-again role.

One has to wonder, with Hernandez playing at a high level and with two hot minor league catching prospects in Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal itching to make their way up to the majors, where exactly Hanigan fits in Cincinnati's plans for the future.

Hernandez is 35 years old and projected to become a free agent at the season's end, but the Reds didn't trade him when given a chance to at the deadline, and that could mean that they intend to bring him back in 2012. After all, there are several Cincinnati pitchers, including emerging star Johnny Cueto, who prefer to pitch to Hernandez due to their familiarity with his catching style. 

Whatever the Reds decide to do with Hanigan down the line, there's no question that he will still have a future in the league. Catchers (even backups) are remarkably valuable in the MLB, and while he's not a superstar by any means, Hanigan has shown year after year that he can hold down home plate with the best of them.