Seeking more depth at catcher, the Royals have tapped an old friend, signing free agent Brayan Peña to a minor-league deal, the club confirmed on Tuesday.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported the deal, which includes an invite to major-league spring training.
The Royals will enter the season with catchers Salvador Perez and Drew Butera on the 25-man roster. But the organization desired more insurance at the position after letting backup Tony Cruz go this offseason. Cruz spent most of last season at Class AAA Omaha.
Peña, 35, spent parts of four seasons with the Royals from 2009 to 2012. Known for his gregarious demeanor and inspiring back story — Peña defected from Cuba in dramatic fashion when he was 16 years old — the switch-hitting catcher batted .251 with a .291 on-base percentage and 12 homers in 264 games for the Royals.
The Royals jettisoned Peña after the 2012 season. He spent 2013 with the Detroit Tigers and then played in 223 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2014 to 2015. He played last season in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, playing in just nine games while battling a nagging knee injury.
In 12 major-league seasons, Peña is a career .259 hitter with a .299 on-base percentage and 23 homers in 638 games.