The Cincinnati Reds off-season was bound to be frustrating, at least from a short term perspective. Aroldis Chapman is going to get traded. Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier may well get shipped out, too. The Reds won't be in on any of the big-name free agents, yet they'll get to watch their division rivals splash hundreds of millions of bucks to bring in even more talent to an already stacked National League Central.
The lone hope we all held was that things wouldn't get too sentimental.
Then, this happened.
#STLCards announce signing of free-agent catcher Brayan Pena to two-year deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 30, 2015
It's a move that can be described as one that won't have any sort of overall baseball impact on the Reds during the next two seasons whatsoever, but watching Brayan Pena sign with the St. Louis Cardinals is exactly the kind of move that makes me want to stick my head in a blender. NERTS enjoyed a solid, yet unspectacular two year run with the Reds - one in which he was tasked with playing way, way more often than even he could have ever expected - and it just so happened to coincide with a pair of the most lackluster, disappointing Reds seasons in recent memory. He was a bright spot during those glum days, however, his giant smile and pleasant demeanor often overshadowing the fact that the team was largely a lit dumpster falling down an up escalator.
Pena will get a chance to play winning baseball at the tail end of his career, and for that I'm happy. He's exactly the kind of baseball lifer that deserves a chance to win a World Series as a veteran on a good team, and that's something that simply wasn't going to happen in a Cincinnati uniform while his knees and back still functioned well enough to grind out eight months of baseball every year. Devin Mesoraco should be back, and Tucker Barnhart equipped himself well enough to get consistent reps going forward, and there simply wasn't enough room to make bringing Pena back a worthwhile move. Still, it's hard to fathom a transaction that would've brought out a biley vinegar taste in my mouth moreso than this one.
So long, NERTS. May they be softer than usual when the Cards face the Reds some 36 times over the life of this deal.