Unfortunately, Peña has become somewhat of a punchline during the 2016 season because of the downright awful stretch that he endured from June 29 to July 5 before returning to the disabled list with the same injury that had caused him to miss the season to date up to that point. Peña’s renewed injury struggles caused the Cardinals to lose their existing backup catcher, Eric Fryer, on waivers, and as a result they’ve had to rely on career minor-leaguer Alberto Rosario as Yadier Molina’s backup in the second half.
After getting back into shape and taking some time to rehab his knee injury, Peña looks likely to return to the big leagues when rosters expand. In the middle of a playoff race, there’s not going to be an opportunity for him to turn into the reliable backup that the Cardinals thought he’d be when they signed him last winter, but he could be an incremental offensive upgrade over Rosario for the few days that Molina needs to rest. He’ll also have a shot to rebuild his image heading into 2017, as he’s still expected to be the backup next year since he’s signed to a two-year contract.
Next: Dean Kiekhefer