BY: John Mamola /

The catching situation for the Tampa Bay Rays has been a well debated topic since the inception of the franchise, but could the team be looking at a franchise type player in their acquisition of Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds?  Hanigan was acquired by the Rays, along with Diamondbacks reliever Heath Bell, in a three team deal on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Rays and Hanigan agreed to a three-year contract extension following the trade covering the 2014, '15 and '16 seasons, with a club option for '17, worth a guaranteed $10.75 million. Rays Pitching Coach Jim Hickey joined WDAE’s “The Ron and Ian Show” on Wednesday morning and said he expects Hanigan to step in as the #1 catcher on the roster.

“I think he’ll probably do the majority of the catching although I’m not positive yet because we haven’t discussed that” said Hickey.  “I’m excited about it because I know we’ve been interested in this guy (Hanigan) for a number of years and I’m really not sure how it all came together.  The fact that he can hit, and the fact that he calls a great ballgame.  I’ve talked to people about that that are very familiar with him.  He calls a real good ball game, he catches well and throws well.  He does all the things that you would look for, so I would imagine he’d probably catch somewhere around 100 games.”

The Rays making the trade for Hanigan just days following the team re-signing Jose Molina to a two year deal.

Hickey also commented that he’s happy with the situation the Rays are in with the addition of Heath Bell to the Rays’ bullpen mix.  Hickey also said that he believes that the trade rumors surrounding starter David Price are not affecting Price at all.  Hickey believes Price will be a top five elite pitcher in the coming 2014 season.