Devin Mesoraco and the Cincinnati Reds apparently have no interest in fighting each other in the arbitration process. The All-Star catcher agreed Monday to a four-year contract that buys out his three arbitration years and his first year of free agency.       

The Reds confirmed the move:

C. Trent Rosecrans of The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the news, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provided the details of the new contract:

Mesoraco, the Reds’ first-round pick in 2007, has blossomed into one of baseball’s best two-way catchers. After struggling to find himself as an offensive player his first three years, he broke out in 2014 as perhaps the game’s best power-hitting backstop. He hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 114 games, setting career highs across the board.

During a recent promotional stop, Mesoraco talked with reporters about improvements he’s still looking to make in his game, according to Derrick Webb of the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette: 

You just have to continue to work hard and stay hungry. I need to keep improving my defense to really become one of the all around better catchers in the game. My defense needs to and will continue to improve the more that I’m (behind the plate) and the more comfortable I get. That’s the main focus, just going out there and doing my thing.

Mesoraco was scheduled to hit arbitration for the first time in 2015. He and the Reds would have met with an arbitrator next month had a compromise not been struck.

The signing makes Mesoraco one of the Reds’ building blocks for years to come. His 4.4 wins above replacement (FanGraphs formula) was fifth among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances. It’s likely he would have ranked higher had he not missed most of the first two months with injuries.

His absence helped facilitate a shaky start that soon turned into a lost season in Cincinnati. The Reds finished a disappointing 76-86 in 2014, snapping their streak of back-to-back playoff appearances. Without much in the way of free-agent help, the front office is banking on its in-house talent leading a push back to the postseason in the increasingly competitive National League Central.  

Getting Mesoraco‘s deal done is perhaps the first promising sign for the future.


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