Brayan Pena told he won’t be back with Tigers

When the Tigers were swept out of the World Series last year, Dave Dombrowski had the uncomfortable task of telling pending free agents in the clubhouse after Game 4 whether they would be re-signed or not. Between the Tigers’ abrupt exit from the ALCS this season, and Jim Leyland’s secret postgame farewell to players, that didn’t happen this time around. Now, apparently, the decisions are coming out. Brayan Pena, a pending free agent, appears to be the leadoff man in this one.

Pena’s agent, Paul Kinzer, confirmed that’s what he and Pena were told. Kinzer said they were told the Tigers are going in-house for their backup catcher. That means Bryan Holaday is in line to crack the big league roster and back up Alex Avila, with former top pick James McCann likely getting a look in Spring Training to show whether he could make the jump.

When asked to confirm, a Tigers spokesperson said that the agent reached out to the team and was informed that the Tigers will be going in a different direction.

Tigers officials saw Holaday as a Major League ready catcher defensively last offseason, but had trouble convincing a third catcher to sign a minor-league deal. Instead, they signed Pena to a one-year, $865,000 Major League deal and reaped the benefits this season.

Pena was a boost in the midst of Alex Avila’s first-half offensive abyss, essentially splitting time with Avila for most of May and June. He was the everyday catcher while Avila was on the disabled list in late June, then took over again in August when a foul tip off the mask landed Avila on the DL with a concussion.

Once Avila returned with renewed pop in his bat, however, Pena became sort of a forgotten man, despite batting .397 (25-for-63) in August. He started only one game over the final three weeks of the regular season while the Tigers made their playoff push. Avila’s hitting (.325, 25-for-77, 11 RBIs after return from DL), plus his comfort level with Detroit’s pitchers and recovery on defense, prompted Tigers officials to move him into more of an everyday role, which continued into the postseason.

For the season, Pena batted .297 (68-for-229) with 11 doubles, four home runs and 22 RBIs. He actually fared much better against right-handed pitchers than lefties, which defied the platoon he had with Avila but followed his career splits.

When the season ended a week and a half ago in Boston, Pena made it clear he badly wanted to return.

“I want to be back here,” he said. “Money’s not an issue. I feel like I want to be here. The fans, the way they treated me, it was unbelievable.

Moreover, Pena said he wanted to lose 25 pounds in the offseason so that he could come to Spring Training and prove he’s ready behind the plate.

The question now is whether Avila will be more of an everyday catcher from the outset next season with Holaday as his backup. Holaday’s .260 average and .684 OPS at Triple-A Toledo last season were the highest of his four-year professional career. He was a more aggressive hitter, but his strikeouts also picked up. That said, his promotion would set up a lefty-righty mix on the roster, and would also give the Tigers a strong defensive catcher as a more traditional backup.

McCann made it to the All-Star Futures Game last summer amidst a torrid start at the plate at Double-A Erie. He seemingly tailed off around midseason, then found a second wind in an outstanding August. He finished the season batting .277 with 30 doubles, eight home runs, 54 RBIs and a .731 OPS.

34 Comments

Too bad

I glad Holaday is the back-up catcher and he does hit lefties a little better than righties. That way McCann play AAA.

I’ll miss him. Hope he finds a new gig soon.

He said farewell on October 20th.I quoted his tweet then.
Nobody like to be benched for no reason. The K/BB ratio was higher with him for most of the season,his game call was good enough.
Nothing unexpected with Holaday. Kennedy has a post at BYB projecting the Tigers nearing luxury tax level and forced to going cheap in some position.
Fielder´s contract strikes back

White Sox?? Indians?? He has been in the AL Central the last five years. He pounded our division rivals. One of them will see an opportunity to get better.

I think think you are right Eltigre ….its all about cost cutting.

Pena did a great job. I wish would have seen more in the post season.

i don’t have time to list the reasons prince is killing us

Sure you do. Many years perhaps!!!!

pistons looked good tho

That’s probably the least I’ve watched a World Series since the one in 1994.
I did see the end. While the Red Sox have won three WS in the last nine years (Tigers two in my lifetime), they still had to get over that nasty hump of winning one at HOME for the first time in 95 years. That is one strange franchise. I’d be happy to see the Tigers win one even if they played it in Japan.

Rich, why did you pick St.Louis over Boston in four straight???

Because I saw very little of the Cardinals this season. I believe I did come closest to being right out of all the other predictions here on the blog. :-)

I watched about 2 minutes just to check on the score. Watched the Pistons, instead.

great game (pistons!)

Because Red Soxs have to be in my opinion the least unlikable teams and fan base. Nothing there to cheer for.

you mean most or your two sentences confused me. i feel like the team has become LESS intolerable lately but the fans and media still are annoying.

I tried not to hate on them, but what I really felt was jealousy. They played with a drive and were relentless down the stretch. Their whining about different plays was annoying and arrogant, but they were the best team, imo. Hurts to say that.

Good luck Pena – I hate to see you go, really like you as a player and my kids loved watching your homerun sprint on the few occasions they got to see it!

You have a World Series where the most exciting moment was a walk off obstruction call. Jim Joyce for MVP.

Looks like a new manager and growing beards might be the key to winning a WS. Now if we can just get our guys to grow the beards next year.

miggy would look awesome with a huge beard!

Porcello too!!! (full beard)
Back to Pena. We are losing a huge team guy with his departure. One of the most impressive role players and genuine “team-mate” that I have seen since Polanco.
This guy really cared about his mates and his exuberance in that dugout was palpable. He should have been played more—there’s no doubt about that

I don’t think $875K is going to break the bank on this team, you gotta wonder if the pitching staff had issues with his game calling or perhaps the nail polish? To play as little as he did down the stretch makes you think twice. He seemed like a “team guy” and useful what little he played.

with the money we paid prince to play a crappy 1B, clog base paths, GIDP and completely suck in the playoffs……we could pay 26 Pena’s and still have 250K left over

Maybe he’ll go to a contending team and win a WS ring.

If I’m DD I’m at least considering Boone Logan

850 , he was set to make 1.25 to 1.5MM Holaday will make 550K. Around 800 K less. Some savings here, some more there.
The nail polishing is just a way to make easier for the pitchers to read the signs, he is not the only one doing that.
Before ESPN and the fabricated rivalry, ( rivalry is Dodgers – Yankees, Dodgers- Giants) Boston was team to root for after the Tigers were out. My first memories of a WS, not the first I watched(A´s- Reds), are from 1975 considered the best ever and I was rooting for Boston. Also during the extra game I wanted the Yankees losing. I switched allegiances to the Mets and Gooden in 1986,but you could only feel bad for Buckner.

Thanks eltigre, the $$ are miniscule and I still believe there were some politics involved as they pulled the trigger on the Pena decision before the season ended. My belief (and hope) is that they go after a solid 1st backstop and AA is the backup or retires. I hope DD will be active this off-season. Benoit could be the only one offered a contract out of the 7, but not at $14MM!

Cleveland releases closer Chris Perez, thus making Detroit’s road to another division title that much tougher.

Enlighten me Rich. Assume your meaning is they can do nothing but get better by dumping him. I sure hope we don’t pick him up. Yikes. That must be the other half of your meaning if DD did. That would be the definition of stupid. I really can’t stand the guy. I could never root for him.

I’m calling you on your prediction too Rich:-) Cardinals in 4, in 5, in 7, and……double or nothing. I watched about half of the series, seeing parts of every game. Cards looked pretty beatable. Boston was a good team (not a great team) though. Kind of makes you realize how close our guys came or might have come to winning it all. As hobbled as our guys were, we still played Boston tougher than did the Cards. With a healthy Miguel I don’t think anybody could have beaten our Tigers. I know, you can’t think about those things. It is what it is. Hey QB has a WS ring! Not too shabby eh.

Check out our schedule. We open with six at home and then go West to play the Dodgers and Padres. Half of our ten games in NL parks will be the second week of the aeason. Could Alex and V Mart hold down the fort at both catcher and DH the first two weeks with three days off mixed in?? We need these guys to get off to a good start. Meanwhile Holaday and McCann can get more ABs at Toledo. One would be called up in late April probably. Also this gives us an option to go with eight in the bullpen to start the season.

I hope no tiger grows the terrorist beards. Looks very unprofessional. Also i believe not resigning pena is a mistake. Avilia isnt our steady catcher, and i love al but he has already had many injuries.

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