I love Ryan Hanigan. I do not want him to leave. On the other hand, if a team is actively looking at him, that might mean that he has enough trade value right now that it is essential that we sell. According to rumors, the Angels are interested in Hanigan to, evidently, back up or take over for Hank Conger, the Angels best catching prospect. In that case, Ken Rosenthal, who reported the rumor, suggested that we might re-sign Ramon Hernandez to tandem with Mesoraco in 2012 – as, appropriately, Devin is the one piece of the puzzle the others need to fall in around.
Hernandez will probably be more expensive option – he’s had some really good seasons with the Reds. He’s not a super-star, but few free agent catchers are. He’s also more of a short term option. Hanigan is signed (relatively cheap) through 2013, and will probably get in one multi-year contract after that. At 36, it’s hard to tell what role Hernandez will play in the catching picture, but it would probably be short term. In addition, we’d need a prospect from the Angels for Hanigan – a raw, moderately high ceiling guy seems likely, as Hanigan’s not worth enough to merit a true top prospect. Both catchers are sound, but Hanigan slots more neatly into a backup role. It’s important to sell high, but the team’s future has to be more important.
On the other hand, we may have the next Ryan Hanigan already in the system. It’s a little pipe-dream-y, but I really liked James Skelton when he was with the Tigers – as a discipline-strong, power-weak, 22 year old catching prospect. He was still never a very highly rated guy, but his star has fallen since then. This last year, he only OPS’d .706 between AA and AAA, as a 25 year old. But that’s been in limited playing time, over both this year and last – perhaps he’s resolving an injury issue? (It wouldn’t be that surprising to me – I mean, how many 165 lb catchers do you see in professional baseball?) In any case, smart money is not on Skelton gracing the Reds major league roster – but you never know. Ryan Hanigan had some rough years in the minor as well.