We continue Red Reporter's player by player look at the 2015 Cincinnati Reds. We'll profile every player who got time for the Reds this year, and will imagine their tenure with the Reds going forward.
By The Numbers
51 PA, .178/.275/.244, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 44 OPS+
Devin Mesoraco spent the vast majority of the season on the disabled list. First he was just "sore." Then it was revealed it'd be something much worse and finally, after a failed experiment in left field that "wouldn't do further damage" made him even more sore, he was shut down for the season.
How'd He Do?
I refer you to the first paragraph. How'd he do, you ask? He didn't really do anything.
After I mused back in March that the Reds catcher would have to stay healthy in order to prove worth the investment management dumped into him in the offseason, Devin Mesoraco spent most (basically all) of the season on the disabled list.
While in March we were concerned about concussions (and, despite all of the other worries, is still at least a minor concern), Mesoraco missed the vast majority of the season after surgery to repair an impingement in his left hip, that, before it was repaired, made it difficult to impossible for the player to squat behind the plate for catching duties.
It was a long road to get here, so let's recap:
Devin stumbled out of the gate OPSing .269 through his first 6 games. Something was obviously not right with the right handed slugging catcher, so the Reds shut him down for a week, claiming he was "sore." He started at catcher on April 12th, and would not catch again for the rest of the year. From then on, he would fail to record more than one plate appearance in all but 4 games; games in which the Reds visited an American League park. Devin would toil on the Reds bench for a month in this capacity, able only to try and hit if he were called upon. Therefore, the Reds played with 24 players.
Mesoraco last appearance with the big league club for 2015 came on May 20th against the Kansas City Royals as a designated hitter. He went 0-4. He remained on the active roster for 5 more days.
Thereafter, the organization began seeking alternative methods to get Mesoraco's bat back into the lineup. Rest and relaxation. Rehab. Pain management. Doctor's opinion after doctor's opinion. After one such doctor reasoned that playing the field would do nothing to further damage the hip, the Reds sent Mesoraco to Louisville to learn how to play left field on the fly. Unsurprisingly, the experiment failed, and Mesoraco was pulled in his 3rd attempt in LF due to, you guessed it, hip soreness.
Devin finally opted for the surgery in June and, by all accounts, the operation was a success. "Very big thumbs up," Reds manager Bryan Price said before his team's 11-7 win over the Minnesota Twins. "Been going back-and-forth on the text with him. He's very happy. (Kremchek) gave us a very emphatic thumbs up."
Quick editorial aside but: Who in the hell says, "On the text?"
Anyway, Mesoraco is suspected to be ready by the start of Spring Training with no limitations, and his offseason workout program is not expected to be altered by the surgery. Which leads us to...
Who in the hell knows?
There are a multitude of scenarios for how this plays out, and the Reds will have to wait until February for answers on which route they have to take.
Scenario #1: Devin Mesoraco comes back, hip good as new from surgery, and immediately morphs back into 2014 Devin Mesoraco.
Obviously, this is the optimal solution, but how viable is it, really? Sure, Mesoraco should be fine playing baseball for the long term, but this type of surgery has never had to be performed on a catcher, who is required to squat day in and day out for hours at a time. So, we don't know how Mesoraco's body is going to react until he actually does it, which leads to...
Scenario #2: Devin Mesoraco comes back, has to work back to everyday catching duties/is eased back into catching/can only catch part time.
If this is the case, the Reds are going to be missing his bat from the lineup 3 or more days a week, or he's going to have to play another position. Unfortunately, the Reds can't just take the Buster Posey/Joe Mauer approach to saving their catcher's legs because first base is, uh, a little more than occupied. Therefore, obviously the choice would be left field, which is certainly open, but seems like it'd be quite the adventure. I'm not going to say it wouldn't work but, gah, that's a downgrade in both expectations and value.
Scenario #3: Devin Mesoraco cannot catch at all.
This is similar to number two, but if Mesoraco comes back and tries to catch and can't due to his surgically repaired hip, it'd be interesting to see if the Reds would throw him out into left field in Cincinnati everyday and let him learn on the fly in a season that they've all but admitted their punting, or if Devin would find himself in Louisville for at least a portion of the season. Obviously, a full offseason worth of moves to be made would sway this decision.
Scenario #4: Devin Mesoraco suffers a set back, bounces around DL/rehab/minors.
This is the darkest timeline.
Chance of making the 2016 Reds roster: 99% (Nothing is 100%, but even if he has to go to Louisville and learn how to play another position, he'll be on the 2016 Reds barring something extremely unforeseen.)