Last month, I suggested three different trades that the Cleveland Indians should attempt to make. While I gave reasons as to why each trade would make sense, I feel as though an extension to those pieces was necessary. Today, I’ll start with the deal that had the worst public response: dealing closer Chris Perez to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco.
This deal doesn’t make fantastic sense now that the Cincinnati Reds have signed Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal, but with the potential move of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, acquiring Perez would give the Reds the three-headed monster that they had in Chapman, Broxton, and Sean Marshall late last season. So how can this deal help both teams?
Devin Mesoraco turns 25 years old in June and he is under team control until 2018; he’snot even eligible for arbitration until 2015. The 15th overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft was a bust in his first two years in the minors, posting a .244/.310/.390 slashline over 691 plate appearances with 35 doubles and 17 home runs in 2008 and 2009. Mesoraco then erupted in 2010, posting a .302/.377/.587 triple-slash with 25 doubles and 26 home runs in 451 plate appearances over three levels.
Since 2010, the Reds have let Mesoraco get a little more seasoning in Triple-A, as the young catcher received 499 plate appearances in Louisville in 2011 before earning a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster in 2012. However, Mesoraco received just 184 plate appearances in 54 games in Cincinnati, even being sent down to Triple-A after a suspension due to bumping an umpire before being left off of the playoff roster while Dioner Navarro took his spot.
Mesoraco struggled to get everyday playing time while Ryan Hanigan received 371 plate appearances over 112 games. Hanigan led the majors by throwing out 48 percent of would-be base stealers. With his solid defense and age (32), Hanigan was exactly the kind of player Dusty Baker loves. While Mesoraco rotted on the bench, not receiving starts or the ability to get his bat going, Baker continued playing Hanigan before saying “The other guy is playing pretty good,” about Dioner Navarro when Mesoraco returned from Triple-A in September. Mesoraco could only say:
“It’s not like I’ve completely changed as a player. I’m still the player most people think I can be and I was at one time. It’s not like it’s been 10 years that’s changed me. It’s been 200 at-bats, maybe. Whenever I get a chance again, I will show that I am the same player.”
As the Reds let Mesoraco rot, why not cash him in to help maintain their bullpen’s standing as the best in baseball even with the eventual innings limit cap that Chapman will hit? The deal makes sense for the Reds because of the enhancement of their bullpen and because Hanigan won’t become a free agent until 2015. Are they going to continue to give Mesoraco 200 at-bats for the next two seasons?
Chris Perez would be a very good return for Mesoraco. Just 27, Perez has 107 saves and a 3.23 ERA in his career. He won’t be a free agent until 2015, so the Reds would control him for two years. The reason that the Cleveland Indians would be interested in making this deal is because Perez made $4.5 million in 2012 and has two more years of arbitration remaining. He is going to be getting expensive.
With Mesoraco, the Tribe could move the defensively inept Carlos Santana to first base or designated hitter, while providing another powerful, right-handed hitter to a lineup that is, currently, full of left-handed hitters. Mesoraco’s team-friendly, team-controlled status is only icing on the cake for Cleveland, while the Reds find a solid veteran, such as Yorvit Torrealba, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Snyder, or Ronny Paulino to take the one or two starts per week that Mesoraco seemed to be getting in 2012 to fill the backup catcher role. Getting a closer like Chris Perez to protect themselves from any Jonathan Broxton meltdowns is well worth making the deal.