Cardinals sign free-agent catcher Brayan Pena

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed free-agent catcher Brayan Pena (pronounced Brian) to a two-year deal for the 2016-17 seasons. Pena, 33, is a veteran of 11 seasons in the majors, batting a combined .260 with 23 home runs and 164 RBI in 629 career games with Atlanta (2005-08), Kansas City (2009-12), Detroit (2013) and Cincinnati (2014-15).


The 5-9, 240-pound Cuban native led the Reds in games caught (86) in 2015 while batting .273 with a career-best .334 on-base pct.   Pena, a switch-hitter, batted .295 with a .347 on-base pct. versus right-handed pitching this past season and he hit at a .293 clip against National League Central clubs. His .999 fielding pct. (one error in 715 total chances) was tops in the Senior Circuit among qualifying catchers.


Since debuting in 2005, Pena's .260 career batting mark is 2nd only to Victor Martinez (.304) amongst active switch-hitting catchers with 400 or more games played. Pena has hit 19 or his 23 career homers off of right-handed pitchers and he owns a .271 lifetime batting mark from the left side.


Pena, who has also played 62 career games at first base, is expected to serve as the team's primary back-up behind the plate to perennial All-Star Yadier Molina.


With today's signing of Pena, the Cardinals 40-man Major League roster is currently at 37 players.