Reds pitcher Homer Bailey has thrown two no-hitters in his career, both of which were received by catcher Ryan Hanigan. So great was Hanigan's influence that when Jack Moore published his reaction article after Bailey's first no-no for Fangraphs, it was titled "Homer Bailey and Ryan Hanigan No-Hit Pittsburgh." When Bailey talks about his no-hitters in interviews, he uses the term "we."
Former Reds pitching coach, current Reds manager Bryan Price was quick to give Hanigan praise after the pair's second no-hitter in two seasons.
"He's the kind of guy that cultivates these kinds of relationships with starting pitchers," Price told Cincinnati reporter C. Trent Rosecrans. "You find that these guys really like to throw to him, they have the ability to get on the same page, they know he's working on their behalf."
Apparently, in spite of all those accolades, this doesn't matter so much to the Reds, thanks to a two-year contract Cincinnati just handed a guy not named Ryan Hanigan.
The Rays have had interest, the Rays have interest, the Rays will continue to have interest.
I'm incredibly grateful for Baseball Prospectus's managing editor Ben Lindbergh, because he's dedicated himself to researching and understanding the art of framing and given us all some great content along the way. His rankings have Hanigan as one of the ten best framers in the game (as did Mike Fast in 2011), and has used Hanigan's mentality for framing pitches to describe the methods of other players he evaluates.
Lindbergh of those is an interview with Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan, and if you're interested in catcher framing and the mentality behind it, I suggest you give it some time. (You can read the excerpts from the Hanigan article here). Hanigan's ability to work with pitchers and give his guys an edge through framing is clearly something the Rays organization values, which makes acquiring the catcher a logical move.
Other metrics to consider for Hanigan? He caught 45.5% of base runners last season, the highest among catchers with 22 or more starts behind the dish (Hanigan made 66 starts and 72 appearances). He also placed in the Top-20 for catcher ERA for the same group of catchers (if that's your sort of thing), and was tenth overall for catchers with as many appearances as him on the season.
Many people's concerns are likely Hanigan's bat, which was completely ineffective at the plate last season, but allow me to posit that his 53 wRC+ was most likely the result of luck:
The 33-year old catcher saw no change in his plate discipline, swinging at near identical marks inside and outside the strike zone compared to last season, and his overall groundball or flyball rates were unchanged -- all but his IFFB% (the amount of flyballs that stayed in the infield, a measure often associated with bad luck), which was almost triple his numbers from the previous season -- a sky-high 14%. Let that regress to a normal state, and Steamer has Hanigan back at his 2.5+ WAR value for 2014.
Hanigan made $2.05M last season and is approaching his final year of arbitration. If the Rays feel like they won't be able to retain Jose Molina next season, that a young catcher like Dioner Navarro would be too expensive, or that Jose Lobaton isn't ready for the lion's share of catching duties, acquiring Hanigan on the cheap is the way to go -- especially is he's likely to be non-tendered.
Ryan Hanigan is awfully underrated. The #reds downgraded at C with Pena, and some other team will benefit.— Bryan (@bgrosnick) November 8, 2013
Let's hope that team is the Rays. I'd rather not give New York two excellent framers in Chris Stewart and Ryan Hanigan.
The AL East bidding war for Ryan Hanigan is going to be fun. Four nerdy teams all need a catcher and will love what Hanigan provides.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) November 8, 2013
Get in there, Friedman!