The Royals have signed catcher Brayan Pena to a minor league deal, according to reporter Ken Rosenthal. The 35-year old switch-hitter played for the Royals from 2009 to 2012. Since leaving Kansas City, Pena has played for the Tigers, Reds, and spent last year with the Cardinals where he hit just .154/.214/.231 in nine games, missing most of the season with a knee injury. Pena has been considered a decent hitting option for a backup, although he has been below-average defensively. He is a lifetime .259/.299/.351 hitter in 638 career MLB games.
Brayan Pena/Royals details: $535k base if on ML roster (ML minimum), $10k in incentives, opt-outs at end of ST and 5/1.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 7, 2017
Pena is not expected to make the team, since the Royals signed Drew Butera to a two-year contract to be the backup to Salvador Perez. He could be the starting catcher at Omaha to provide depth at the position, and he could be transitioning to a coaching role. He originally began his baseball career in the Braves organization, coming up when Dayton Moore was still with the club.
The Cuban-born Pena has been known for his fierce patriotic loyalty to his new home in the United States, and has joined the U.S. Army Reserves in an ambassador role.