The St. Louis Cardinals have announced the signing of free agent catcher Brayan Pena to a two-year deal for the 2016-17 seasons. A switch-hitter, Pena has a combined .260 average over 11 big league seasons with 23 home runs and 164 RBIs in 629 games. As a left-hander he has a career .271 average, with 19 of his career HRs against right-handed pitching.
The 33-year old Pena led the Cincinnati Reds with 86 games caught in 2015, stepping in for Devin Mesoraco who appeared in only 23 games due to a hip injury. He also hit .293 against National League Central clubs.
The Cuban native led the National League with a .999 fielding percentage (one error in 715 chances) amongst qualifying catchers. Prior to the Reds, Pena has also played for Atlanta, Kansas City, and Detroit.
Per the team’s press release, Pena is expected to serve as the primary back-up behind the plate to Yadier Molina, which indicates a parting of the ways with Tony Cruz.
Arbitration eligible for the second consecutive season, Cruz made $775,000 in 2015 while hitting .204 (299-142) with 2 HRs and 11 RBIs.
The signing of Pena now increases the Cardinals 40-man roster to 37 players.
photo credit: Jeff Curry, Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
@Cardinals Very happy for this new opportunity that GOD gave me, i cant to go out there and earn my new fans and teammates RESPECT
— Brayan Pena (@cuban2727) November 30, 2015