CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Reds did Ryan Hanigan and themselves a favor by trading the veteran catcher to the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team deal Tuesday.
The Reds cleared the way for young Devin Mesoraco to become their main backstop, improved their hitting at the position and sent Hanigan to a team where he can be the No. 1 catcher and get a multi-year contract.
The Reds also got a young minor-league pitching prospect, left-hander David Holmberg, from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the exchange.
As part of the deal, the Rays gave Hanigan a new three-year, $10.75-million contract that carries the expectation that he will win the starting job even though they just re-signed Jose Molina to a two-year deal last week.
"It was tough to trade Hanigan," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "It got to the point where we had one year before he became a free agent. Sometimes you have to make some tough business decisions you don't like to make. Hani did a terrific job for this organization. Everybody really likes him as a person, as well as a player. We also tried to keep in mind places where he might want to play. I know Tampa was an area. They had interest in him for a couple of years.
"Hopefully this works out well for him."
Hanigan, 33, said he saw the writing on the wall when the Reds signed free-agent Brayan Pena to a two-year, $2.275 million contract in November.
“I wasn't sure what the Reds were going to do, then when they signed Brayan, I kind of felt like they were going in a different direction," said Hanigan. "But I understood what they were doing and after that happened, I kind of just took it in stride and developed a relationship with [the Rays] when I was allowed and got to know these guys on a fairly quick basis."
"Devin Mesoraco will have the opportunity to become a front-line catcher for us," Jocketty said. "Holmberg provides us with the quality pitching depth that every team needs."
Despite Hanigan's superior defense and skill in handling pitchers, the Reds were ready to hand over the catcher's tools to Mesoraco after Hanigan hit just .198 in an injury-shortened 2013 season.
Hanigan, first called up to the Reds in 2007, played in just 75 games last season.
With Hanigan hurt, Mesoraco, 25, handled most of the Reds' catching in his first full big-league season. He played in 103 games and hit .238.
Pena, 32, a switch-hitter, played in 71 games for Detroit and hit .297. What he lacks in defense he makes up with his bat.
Pena has also played for the Royals and Braves since 2005.
Holmberg, a 22-year-old starter and Southern League All-Star, was 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 26 appearances with Double-A Mobile in 2013.
Holmberg had his one and only major-league appearance against the Padres in August and gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings.
RELATED: See Holmberg's career record