Why sign Pena? The Tigers must feel more comfortable with a veteran presence backing up Avila than Holaday, who is still considered a rookie with his six games of major league experience.
Via Tigers PR, Dave Dombrowski had this to say about the Pena signing:
"We are pleased to add an experienced catcher like Brayan Pena to our club," Tigers President, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David Dombrowski said. "As a switch-hitter, he will serve as a solid complement to Alex Avila as our back-up catcher for the 2013 season."
Pena is a 30 year old switch-hitter, his eight MLB seasons evenly split between the Braves and Royals. Considered competent behind the plate, Pena's bat is nothing to speak of, having hit .248/.286/.350 in 884 career at bats. In 2012 Pena hit ..236 with 2 home runs and 25 RBI, posting a brutal .262 OBP. Pena was designated for assignment by the Royals after the season.
In a related move to make room on the 40 man roster, left-handed reliever Matt Hoffman was designated for assignment. Hoffman was drafted by the Tigers in 2007 and has spent the past two seasons at Triple A Toledo. He appeared in 43 games with the Mud Hens in 2012, posting a 1-2 record and 3.69 ERA in 46 1/3 innings.