Monday, January 9, 2012

Ryan Hanigan Almost Traded?

The Reds will lean on Hanigan more than ever in '12's Buster Olney revealed a rather interesting tidbit in his latest piece from Saturday. In it he claims there were discussions between the Rays and the Reds about a deal involving veteran backstop Ryan Hanigan. Here's the excerpt on what allegedly transpired:

"Seth Smith has been in the middle of a lot of trade talk this winter, and one of the ideas that was discussed early this winter was Tampa Bay acquiring Smith and then flipping him to the Cincinnati Reds in return for catcher Ryan Hanigan, whose on-base percentage and relatively modest salary make him a perfect fit for the Rays."

Count me as one of the people who's glad this trade never came to fruition. Hanigan will be relied on more heavily in 2012 than any other year in his previous five with the organization. With veteran Ramon Hernandez now suiting up for another club, it'll be crucial for Hanigan to not only produce on the field, but to aid in the development of top prospect Devin Mesoraco as well.

The 31-year old Hanigan has been a model of consistency throughout his career up onto this point. In perhaps the most impressive stat of all, he has posted more walks than strikeouts in every season since entering the big leagues -- and was the ONLY Red to have more BBs than Ks in 2011. He tied for third in the league among catchers in OBP (.357), was eighth in average (.269) and gunned down potential base stealers at a respectable 35% clip.

Aside from me being doubtful the Reds ever seriously considered trading Hanigan - mainly after losing Hernandez to the Rockies via free agency - the thought of adding yet another left-handed bat to the lineup seems well, crazy. However, I can see the allure of adding a guy like Smith to the team.

Smith - who is under team control though the end of 2015 - is a relative bargain for the kind of production you get from him. At a yearly salary just north of the league minimum, Smith is averaging a line of .275/15/60 with a .830 OPS over the course of a full season -- not too shabby even when you consider the home park he plays in (Coors Field).

Nonetheless, I think subtracting Hanigan from the roster and adding Smith would have done more harm than good. It not only would have put tremendous pressure on Mesoraco, but it would have left the Redlegs with three left-handed bats in the middle of their lineup -- four when Juan Francisco fills in for Scott Rolen at third base. No disrespect to Smith, who I think could be a solid contributor for Cincinnati, but Hanigan's role on the 2012 version of the Reds can not be undersold. As nice as it would be to add a big-time bat in LF, it may not be necessary in order for the squad to win the NL Central this year.

Bottom line: keep Hanigan and give Chris Heisey the shot he deserves to play everyday in left -- because sometimes the best moves in business are the ones you never make.

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