2017 Reds

Devin Mesoraco on Opening Day: “Unlikely”

This is hardly a shock — especially since we started reading the tea leaves last week — but Devin Mesoraco is probably not going to be on the Reds Opening Day roster. This comes straight from manager Bryan Price’s mouth, according to the Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan:

Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price has hinted at it in the last week, but as spring training winds to a close it’s become more of a reality. Starting catcher Devin Mesoraco, coming off shoulder and hip surgeries last season, is “unlikely” to be ready for Opening Day, Price said.

Mesoraco has suffered no setbacks in his recovery. There just hasn’t been enough time to for the 28-year-old to build up his stamina for a regular workload in the majors.

The Reds were likely to have Mesoraco split time with Tucker Barnhart early on anyway, but want Mesoraco to be able to handle a fuller load if necessary before he joins the team.

Go read the rest of Zach’s piece, as there are some good quotes from Price and Mesoraco.

Mesoraco will likely stay out in Goodyear for extended spring training, where he’ll continue to work out, play in games with the minor leaguers, and build up enough strength so that he can join the team very soon. Not much else to say that wasn’t covered in my piece last week:

Do I wish Mesoraco were going to be in the Opening Day lineup? Of course! But I’m okay with the Reds and Mesoraco taking their sweet time to ensure that he’s healthy and ready to compete at a high level once he gets the go-ahead.

To me, the good news is that we haven’t heard anything about any setbacks for Mesoraco, health-wise. Yes, they’re taking it slow, but Mesoraco seems to be in good shape, he’s participating in a full range of baseball activities, including catching and throwing. While the timeline might not be enough to get Mesoraco into the lineup in game one, I’m satisfied — perhaps a better word is hopeful — that he’s on track to return to the big leagues soon thereafter.

So what now? Well, Tucker Barnhart is the de facto starter, and that’s not a terrible thing in the short term. Barnhart did reasonably well last year, and I expect he’ll do reasonably well this year. I’m never going to complain when Barnhart is in the lineup, even if he won’t be mistaken for Johnny Bench. He’s a solid catcher who gets on base at a decent clip.

The Reds will have a decision to make about Barnhart’s backup while Mesoraco is absent. Looks like Stuart Turner has the inside track over Rob Brantly.

Again, Turner is a Rule 5 pick, so if he doesn’t stick with the Reds, they’ll have to offer him back to the Twins. (Or the teams could work out a trade; I’d explore that if I were GM Dick Williams.) Turner would be a good guy to keep around. With his defensive reputation, I think he could be a legitimate backup catcher in the big leagues.

If you’ve been reading Steve Mancuso’s daily reports from his excursion to Goodyear, you’ve noticed that Turner has been somewhat impressive:

I have mixed feelings about saying so many good things about Stuart Turner (Rule 5 catcher) because it’s going to be hard for the Reds to keep him. Turner threw a runner out at second base with a laser shot right on the bag. And today he contributed at the plate with a single to center and a bomb double into right centerfield. Turner’s double was against big league pitcher Sean Doolittle.

So…it is what it is. Mesoraco will be back soon enough (we hope). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this silver lining from Wick Terrell:

And if you’re a believer in patterns, well, consider that the last time he wasn’t ready for Opening Day but was back with the team a bit over a week into a season, it was 2014 – and we all know what he did to baseballs for the remainder of that year once he returned.

Yes, please.

16 thoughts on “Devin Mesoraco on Opening Day: “Unlikely”

  1. Expected … that pretty much sums it up. I’m also OK with it as it does look like he just needs more time to re-orient to baseball activities. That is what extended ST is for. The question from my perspective is, “How long?”

  2. If he’s not going to be ready for Opening Day (no shocker there) I really hope the Reds don’t rush him back at any point. When he’s truly ready I’d love to see him behind the plate four or five days a week. Until then, Barnhart and Turner will be fine.

  3. Thinking hypotheticals………

    Assume that you want to keep Turner for at least this season and possibly beyond. (Reminder – Mes has only 2 years left on contract and isn’t cheap and, while the system has Okey, Wallach, T. Stephenson et. al., there are no guarantees in life)

    Remember that Turner is from the Twins….who have even more needs than the Reds had at the start of -our-rebuild.

    What would be a reasonable offer in a deal? What is the starting point and what would we reasonably consider as available in a lower-level non-headline hedge?

    • Why trade for him? He’s a good glove, no hit catcher (I’m not about to buy into his spring training stats as repeatable over the course of a season when they diverge materially from his career stats). Seems replaceable to me. Is he better than Barnhart?

      • He might be replaceable, but, first, it sounds as though he’s really good defensively, so replacing him might not be that easy and, two, you’d have to replace him on very short notice, like, this week. I probably weigh defense more heavily than most–too heavily, I suppose–but it does seem to me that the last time the Reds were a superior defensive team they were also contenders. There were other factors involved, of course, but preventing runs matters, and good catching prevents runs and improves the confidence of the pitching staff, particularly the young pitchers.

      • If you trade for Turner, the Rule V qualifier becomes moot. He can then be optioned to AAA when Mesoraco comes back, if need be. The Reds depth at C is in the lower minors, Okey at A+ and Stephenson at A. Wallach is only a so-so C. So having Turner at AAA is adding depth to a position that lacks much of it.
        Plus, it is doubtful that Mesoraco, at $13M, will be on the Reds 2018 roster. Thus, having Turner in the Reds system is a good thing.

      • He’s not only replaceable, he’s almost redundant. Joe Hudson says Hi!

        Name PA AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
        Turner-AA 753 .233/.323/.335/.659
        Hudson-AA 242 .203/.315/.290/.605

        Name Age PA AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
        Turner-MiLB 25 1259 .241/.325/.352/.677
        Hudson-MiLB 26 1243 .225/.316/.337/.653

        Name PA AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
        Turner-ST 36 .414/.528/.621/1.148
        Hudson-ST 16 .286/.375/.500/.875

        I like Turner a hair better and he’s done a great job this spring. But there is no reason to expect his bat to continue at this point and he is remarkably similar to Joe Hudson who is also very good defensively.

        With the upcoming roster crunch, I feel the Reds either have to have a plan in place to work a deal with MN very quickly or just offer him back and go with Brantley. If you lose Brantley to a waiver claim when Mesoraco comes back, you still got Hudson on hand.

  4. Say Mes needs about six weeks or so to get back his stamina and his hitting stroke. Do we trade for Turner? Would Cozart for Turner, if we pay a million of his contract for ’17, be too little or too much for Turner?

    • That’s way to much to give up for a 3rd string catcher while there are several catching prospects in the system….IMO

      • Good grief! That’s -way- too much. Why give up an established major leaguer for a player who was considered sufficiently marginal to be made available from a weaker roster?

        In reality, what you are probably looking at putting on the table is AAA (1) or AA/A (2) prospects that are on the bubble and have unlikely prospects breaking into our big league roster because of the people above them in the position. Or maybe a LOOGY or marginal reliever type. And even that -may- be too much (there is always the awesome and dreaded PTBNL). Depends on what the Twins need – although, right now, even a weak oar is better than what they have at a lot of spots. At least, that’s how I see it – please feel free to apply the Salmon of Correction.

        Too much or too little?

        • You said that is way to much. At least two teams, the Yankees and Padres could use ss help. so far, neither seems interested in Cozart Not only does everyone in baseball know that the reds would like to move Cozart, but he has had serious knee injuries, and he’s in the last year of his contract. Turner is a rule five player, but so were other good players, the most outstanding example was Josh Hamilton. Now, I’m not implying that Turner is anywhere near the player Hamilton was, but merely that teams make mistakes. Turner could be very good.

          • Possibly….but you have to evaluate the -other- half of that equation.

            Put Turner aside for the moment — what would you reasonably expect to get for Cozart if you move him anytime between now and the midseason break? Probably, but not certainly, more than Turner? Either a AAA or multiple AA’s plus released salary for the rest of the year?

            I’m assuming that the Reds make every effort to reclaim some value before losing him to free agency, so, yes, there is an upside cap and it’s low, but still…..and all of
            that assumes the rest of the infield, current and aspirant, don’t suffer a serious breakdown along the way. Otherwise, he may well still be on roster come September.

    • My guess, is that it will take another 2 weeks to stretch him out to be ready.

      So, in Cincinnati speak…June 1st.

  5. I’ve been impressed with Turner. He looks like a big leaguer at the plate, and his defense is already a known quantity. Id be willing to roll the dice with him. I’d like to see them work out a trade. Like you said, he’s no Johnny Bench, but I think he will be a little better than Bill Plummer.

  6. I can’t help thinking this is killing Devin. I can’t help thinking, just let him learn the OF and put him out there. He would be a much more valuable player.

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