This afternoon the Cincinnati Reds released a statement that former All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco underwent surgery on his right hip and would be ready to resume catching activities in January. This is not the same hip that he had operated on already. Two years, two different hip surgeries. For a catcher. I’m not a doctor, but that doesn’t sound like it’s going to be good for the long term ability to stay at the position.

After spending most of the 2012 season on the bench, and then splitting the 2013 season with Ryan Hanigan (in which Mesoraco only got a majority of the playing time when Hanigan went down with injury), Devin Mesoraco had a break out year in 2014 when he was given a full workload for a catcher. He went out and hit .273/.359/.534 with 50 extra-base hits in 114 games played. He made the All-Star team that year and posted the highest OPS+ of any Red not named Joey Votto since 2003 – and even that was in a 91 game sample by Jose Guillen.

Since the 2014 season ended, Mesoraco has managed to play in just 39 games and he’s hit .158 while battling both a hip injury and a shoulder injury (that also required surgery). His inability to stay on the field has been something that’s really set the team behidn the 8-ball, as they had planned on him being the everyday catcher moving forward after his All-Star season.

Tucker Barnhart has stepped in this season and held his own on both sides of the ball, and at this point is probably the safer bet to be the catcher for the next few years than Mesoraco is. The Reds seem to think that Mesoraco will be able to return to catching, but at this point I’m not nearly as sold on it, especially for the long haul.

The organization attempted to play him in left field for a brief amount of time in 2015 while on a minor league rehab assignment, but it didn’t last long as he wound up taking the required hip surgery. If he’s unable to catch full time, the team is going to want to find a place for him to get some additional at-bats.

While there’s been some chatter about adding the designated hitter to the National League, it seems that’s died down quite a bit and would be a big surprise if that were to happen at this point. Should the Reds consider trying him back in left or right field? Could third base be an option if Eugenio Suarez can’t figure out things on both sides of the ball in the near-term future?

The future for Devin Mesoraco seems quite uncertain at this point. As I said, I’m not a doctor, but coming off of back-to-back seasons with serious hip surgeries for a catcher would certainly lead one to guess he’s probably not going to be a catcher on anywhere near an everyday basis. If his bat can return to form, or even anything remotely close to it, it’s one that the team desperately could use in their lineup. They will need to try and find a spot for it.

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27 Responses

  1. Gaffer

    I said extensively at the time that the Mes signing was a bad idea. Clearly I had no idea of his injuries but why pay a guy that has 2-3 months of good production (and little else) but has 3 years of arbitration left. The whole value of arbitration is the flexibility! If Mes plays great, you pay him under the current value in arbitration, but if he gets hurt or plays poor you don’t have to pay anything.

    Where can you play him? No where really. Outfield is not an option with no practice and 1B is obviously out. His bat is mediocre anywhere but C. I never though Mes would reproduce his early 2014 numbers over the long haul, but this is now a financial albatross.

    • Doug Gray

      In 2014 he posted the best offensive season the Reds have had since 2003, so it’s a real stretch to say his bat is mediocre anywhere except at catcher. Assuming, of course, his bat can return to anything close to what it was.

      • Gaffer

        Fair point, but I just don’t believe he can sustain. He moves his head when he hits and jumps at the ball. When he is quiet, he looks like Pujols (really not BS). But, I have not seen that in a long time. If he can catch and hit .250/.330/.460, I will totally say I was wrong. Of course we will be paying him like that no matter what. How much would we be paying him without that contract? I think the Reds lost 20 million on that deal.

      • Dale

        One season Doug. One season. The Reds bought to much on his single year of greatness and now the organization if worse for that. I hope it is a lesson well learned for future contracts.

      • Doug Gray

        You’re arguing something quite different than what I was, Dale.

      • MK

        I am sure they had insurance which wil return a significant portion of the last two years pay.

        You really have to wonder if something else is going on with him medically and connective tissues.
        Can really see them fastctracking Okey.

      • DaveCT

        I do know that cortisone shots are known to thin and/or weaken tissue. Wonder what the treatment history us with DM.

      • Guy Evans

        I think part of the reason they signed him when they did is they were trying to extend him for cheaper. He plays like he did that season 1-2 more times, he starts getting quite expensive. The Reds were trying to get on the ground floor(well, not quite because he had one good year already). They took a shot, but he got hurt.

  2. DaveCT

    When drafted, he was described as a quick twitch athlete. I’d like to see him tried at 3B until Senzel arrives, then as a utility 3B/1B/OF type.

  3. rgslone

    Isn’t there also a concussion issue with Mesoraco? Each concussion a person sustains causes progressively more damage and makes it progressively easier and easier to sustain another concussion. I’m wondering how many concussions has Mesaraco sustained? Didn’t the last one occur simply by a foul ball off his face mask?

  4. Krozley

    Hopefully Price is correct when he said this operation was more of a preventative procedure versus repairing and it will allow him to move past all this. I just have doubts he’ll ever be the same given all the past problems as some players are just injury prone. I abhor the DH, but if somehow the NL adopted it in the next couple years, the Reds would sure have a number of candidates to fill the role (Mez, Duran, Suarez, Jagielo).

  5. Greenfield Red

    Here’s a question:

    Had DM been healthy and playing well, would the Reds have drafted both, only 1, or neither of the highly drafted Catchers in the last 2 years?

    My opinion is they still would have drafted TS. He was very young and could be viewed as the long term replacement for DM. I’m afraid the pick of CO is something of a red flag that management doesn’t think DM will ever return to form.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s an interesting question. I do think they believed that Okey was the best guy on the board when they took him. The ball jumps off of his bat when he gets into it.

      • Gaffer

        I have to say its pretty risky given the poor predictions on catchers in the draft. They have invested a lot of first/high second round draft picks on catchers the last number of years to not have a clear cut star player come out of that.

      • Doug Gray

        How many catchers in baseball are clear cut stars? Buster Posey and who? He’s about it. Yasmani Grandal has actually been one of the best catchers in baseball since he debuted. He just hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Devin Mesoraco turned out to be really good in the one full season he was given. Can’t stay healthy though.

  6. Jake

    Try him in right field next year assuming Bruce is gone? Maybe he and Yorman share? Might as well try

  7. Dale

    I don’t think that logic puts him in the field as an everyday player anywhere. Currently we have a better option at every single everyday position than a unproven Mesoraco. He should have to earn an every day position regardless of his salary (again an inflated salary based upon just 1 year of service that even then had injuries in it that limited his game play.) If Mesoraco is 100% healthy there is almost zero chance he plays more than 120 games a season, especially with two rebuilt hips. At best he is our DH for american league games, our bench guy, and extra innings water boy.

    • Doug Gray

      To be clear – Devin Mesoraco doesn’t have two rebuilt hips. He doesn’t even have ONE rebuilt hip. He’s got a hip that was shaved a little bit on each side.

      • Dale

        The report I read was that it was his other hip so both hips have had labrum surgery is that correct? Who do the Reds replace with the super star of Mesoraco? Winker? Duvall? Hamilton in the outfield? Do we get rid of Barnhart in the hopes that Mesoraco can squat putting pressure on both of his hips? Do we dump or demote Suarez to make 3B his home? Just where do you see a guy playing who has had 2 labrum surgeries and a shoulder surgery in 13months? You really believe that come spring training Devin will have the physical ability and sharpness to play better than any of the above mentioned players?
        As someone else eluded to up above it sure seems like something else is going on with his health that might connect all 3 surgeries. Fix him up, give him a long rehap assignment in the minors. If he can’t hit above .200 release him. If he can hit above .200 bring him up as a backup catcher, outfielder, 3B. Let him play all of 2017 in a backup role. If his health holds up and he gets stronger then you address his ability to start in 2018. To be that is the best way to handle this guy. You don’t give him a starting job after all those surgeries. You just don’t. He has to much to prove and quite honestly you are risking him to a relapse or another potential injury.

  8. Reaganspad

    Am I the only person on the planet who thinks that Devin can do what Duvall has done in LF and more?

    I have wanted Devin in LF for 4 years now on days he does not catch. Not for sure he cannot catch in 2017, but even if he is healthy to catch 80 games, I still want him in LF for 45 games

    He is the best right handed hitter on this team

    • Dale

      Probably. Look man Devin had a great year for us. A few years ago. He has had 3 major surgeries in just 13 months. He has never shown success at any position other than catcher. What makes you think that based upon his 1 season (which was also filled with injuries) that he can do what Duvall is doing?

      Don’t get me wrong here I want Devin to succeed but if I was in charge I would not make him a starter until he proves his health by playing a backup role.

      I am also not convinced that Duvall can repeat his first half performance is a permanent solution either. If I were the Reds I would listen in on Duvall as well considering that we have Winker close to Major league ready. Also if the Reds keep Yorman he’ll have to be added to the 25 man roster. Who is the odd man out? My guess is Bruce and Yorman gets 2 months of showing us what he has. But if that doesn’t work out so well then the Reds will be trading some of their extra starters for an additional proven outfield entity.

      • Reaganspad

        Neither had Duvall until he got a chance this year.

        I guess that is where we differ Dale. I want my best bats in the game. They play Phillips hurt all of the time. Devin is a much more important bat than Phillips

        I wonder if we would even know about Devin’s hip issue if he had been in LF the past 4 years. He sure wouldn’t have had the concussion issue or probably the shoulder issue and we would have had another 90-100 HRs from the right side if that is important to you

        And we would still have Ben Lively

  9. B-town Fan

    Doug is next year his free agent year? The last year of that 3yr deal, not sure. It might just be sunk cost and maybe he could be traded, knowing your not going to get much, to an American leaque team and he can be a Mike Napoli type DH/1st baseman.

    • Dale

      Close signed 4 year deal through 2018. Guess we could wave him as trade bait at some point.

    • JB

      Yeah, it seems like the AL is the best place for his career. Could be a nice long career still if he’s not playing every day. It would be fantastic if he took to 3b, but that is still a physically demanding position, too. Senzel could play 2b.

      2019:
      Senzel 2b
      Votto 1b
      Mez 3b
      Bruce RF
      Okey C
      Winker LF
      Ervin CF
      Rodriguez SS

  10. Greenfield Red

    No Peraza, no Trammell, no Aquino, No Suarez? Bruce still in Cincinnati? Mesoraco at 3rd? I’m not sure.