Veteran backstop Brayan Pena is hanging up his spikes after a dozen seasons in the majors, with Pena tweeting confirmation. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press recently reported on Twitter that Pena will manage a Gulf Coast League team for the Tigers.
Pena, 36, carved out a lengthy MLB career despite never producing much at the plate at the game’s highest level. Over 1950 total plate appearances, he produced a collective .259/.299/.351 slash line with 23 home runs.
It probably helped that Pena hits from both sides of the plate, something of a rare commodity for a backstop. He was particularly useful as a lefty bat, meaning he made for a solid platoon option for most regular catchers. And teams obviously believed in him behind the dish.
Pena broke into the majors back in 2005, kicking off a four-year run with the Braves during which he never once took fifty plate appearances in a given season. He was a more regular presence during a four-year run with the Royals, who picked him up via waiver claim, but saw his offensive productivity decline in each year in Kansas City.
After a nice bounceback season with the Tigers, Pena secured a two-year deal with the Reds heading into the 2014 season. He ended up receiving semi-regular playing time there due to injuries to other players, appearing in 223 games and producing a .263/.313/.339 slash. That showing led the Cardinals to give Pena a two-year, $5MM deal in the 2015-16 offseason, but he appeared in only nine games in 2016 due to a knee injury and was released after the season.
Pena had joined the Tigers organization in hopes of receiving a chance to continue playing, but primarily in order to work with the team’s young players, as Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reported this spring. With no real prospects of playing his way back to the majors in Detroit or elsewhere, it seems, the long-time receiver will turn his attention fully to the next phase of his baseball life. MLBTR wishes Pena the best of luck with his new career path.