The Tigers have agreed to a minors deal with veteran catcher Brayan Pena, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter). It is not known at this time whether he’ll receive an invitation to MLB Spring Training, though that certainly seems likely.
As things stand, Detroit seems fairly likely to enter the season with John Hicks backing up James McCann behind the dish. But the organization now has a pair of veterans that could push for a job in camp, with Pena joining Derek Norris as non-roster options. (As regards Norris, those interested in learning more about the team’s somewhat controversial decision to sign him will want to read this piece from Katie Strang of The Athletic.)
As for Pena, he’ll be looking to break back into the majors after a 2017 season in which he failed to earn any MLB time for the first time since his debut year of 2005. Pena spent last season at Triple-A with the Royals organization, where he hit .274/.308/.298 in just 134 plate appearances.
Previously, though, Pena enjoyed a rather lengthy history in the majors. After functioning as a fairly heavily utilized reserve for a few seasons with the Royals and Tigers — the latter of which received one of his best overall seasons in 2013 — Pena signed a two-year deal with the Reds. He ended up receiving extensive action in 2014-15 in Cincinnati, but managed only a .263/.313/.339 batting line there and has not received meaningful MLB time since.
In 1,950 total trips to the plate in his career, he has turned in a .259/.299/.351 batting line with 23 home runs. That’s not an immense amount of offensive output, to be sure, but he has obviously long been valued as a steady contributor in a backup role and will at least represent an important depth piece for the Tigers.