Playing the GM Part 3: The Free Agent Catching Options

With Salty and Lavarnway in the fold, the Red Sox could make some moves that would require them to acquire a back-up catcher.

Ryan Lavarnway

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken a long look at the Red Sox’s current roster.  I’ve reviewed player performance, examined contract situations, and made assessments of each player’s future in Bostonin 2013.  (See Part 1 on Position Players and Part 2 on Pitchers)  Here’s the roster I came up with:

Position Players

C – Jarrod Saltalamacchia

C – Ryan Lavarnway

1B – VACANT

2B – Dustin Pedroia

3B – Will Middlebrooks

SS – Jose Iglesias

UT – Pedro Ciracio

LF – VACANT

CF – Jacoby Ellsbury

RF – Cody Ross

OF – Ryan Kalish

OF – Daniel Nava

DH – David Ortiz

Starting Pitching

SP 1 – Jon Lester

SP 2 – Clay Buchholz

SP 3 – VACANT

SP 4 – John Lackey

SP 5 – Felix Doubront

Bullpen

Closer – Andrew Bailey

Set-Up – Junichi Tazawa

RHP – Daniel Bard, Mark Melancon

LHP –Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow

Remainders

In Reserve – Rich Hill, Clayton Mortensen, Rubby De La Rosa, Alex Wilson

Out – James Loney, Mike Aviles, Ryan Sweeney, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Aaron Cook, Alfredo Aceves, Scott Atchison, Vicente Padilla

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Of course, I’m making a few assumptions here.  The biggest assumptions being that the Red Sox re-sign both David Ortiz and Cody Ross.  While I don’t know for sure if one or both players will be brought back, all of the signs are reporting to “yes” at this point.  Still, I’m cautiously optimistic; especially when I hear that Ortiz is hoping they “get it (contract) done by the end of the World Series,” and that there’s “mutual interest” on the parts of Ross and the Red Sox.  Yes, things could still go wrong, but these are positive developments.  In a season where there was little positivity, I’ll take all I can get right now.

Another big assumption is Jacoby Ellsbury staying in the fold.  While he’ll likely be touted in trade rumors throughout the Hot Stove season, I don’t see why the Red Sox would move him at this point, his impending free agency not withstanding.  I’m not going to focus too much on this aspect today as I’ll be discussing potential trade targets in a later article.

The third assumption I’m making is Jose Iglesias being named as the starting shortstop.  Even with Aviles being flipped for John Farrell and another Carpenter that isn’t the Cardinals ace, many questions abound as to whether the slick fielding shortstop can hit well enough to justify starting.  While there are free agent and trade options out there, it seems abundantly clear the Red Sox are heading into the offseason with the intent on him starting at shortstop in 2013.

Today, I’m starting with potential catching candidates.

Catchers

Why would the Red Sox need a catcher?  Well, it’s pretty simple actually.  Saltamacchia, despite the 25 home runs he hit this past season, may end up on the block this winter to full-time slot for Lavarnway.  Or conversely, he could be moved to first base part-time to maximize flexibility.  We can debate on the latter idea’s viability considering the potential for a defensive disaster, but we still have to concede that it’s a possibility.  As such, Ben Cherington could be in the market for a back-up catcher.  Let’s take a look at the players he might be interested in acquiring.

David Ross (.256/.321/.449 in 196 plate appearances) – Ross is probably the pre-eminent back-up catcher in the Major Leagues.  He’s an above average hitter with above average defensive skills behind the plate.  Oh, yeah.  Did I mention that he threw out 53 of 133 would be base stealers during his four year stint in Atlanta?  For you math majors out there, that’s a 37.6% success rate.  At 36, he could be exactly the kind of steadying veteran presence a guy like Lavarnway needs to help him take that next step.  Plus, at $1.5-2M a season, it’s tough to beat!  He’s the premier free agent option for the Red Sox.

Jose Molina (.223/.286/.355 in 274 PAs) – I should note that it’s possible (or even likely) that Molina’s option gets picked up by the Rays, thus negating this whole narrative.  If not, he could be a very intriguing choice as a short-term option at back-up catcher.  He’s a Molina, so you know he’s solid behind the plate both fundamentally and throwing out would-be base stealers.  At 38, he won’t add much offensively, but he could serve as a calming force to some of the Red Sox’s better pitchers.

Yorvit Torrealba (.227/.293/.330 in 218 PAs) – Going into his age-34 season, Torrealba probably won’t give you much, if anything, at the plate as evidenced by his combined 64 OPS+ with three teams last season.  Defensively, he’s on the decline, but he gives you a serviceable option (hopefully) to back-up Lavarnway.  Still, he’s not someone I’d want to bank on.  He’s probably one of the last options, and only worthy of a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.

Kelly Shoppach (.233/.309/.425 in 245 PAs) – HAHAHAHAHA!  Just kidding.  He doesn’t stand a chance of coming back to Boston.

Gerald Laird (.282/.337/.374 in 191 PAs) – Laird’s been below average at throwing out base stealers over the last two seasons, but he was consistently throwing up 40%+ success rates prior to 2011.  Even still, he’d likely be better than either of the Red Sox’s current options in this category.  At 33, he probably still has something left in the tank.  He’s not someone you’d feel with whom you’d feel comfortable starting every day, but there are worse players you can have playing once every five or six games.

Chris Snyder (.176/.295/.308 in 258 PAs) – No, his stat line is not awe inspiring, but it wasn’t that long ago the Red Sox were actively contacting the Diamondbacks and Pirates about trading for his services.  As such, it stands to reason that Ben Cherington will at least kick the tires on the 32-year old backstop. The good news on Synder is that his on base and power skills still remain.   The bad news is that his defensive skills have waned.  Luckily, it hasn’t waned to the point where he’s virtually useless.  With a little luck on balls on play, Snyder could be a reasonable facsimile of Kelly Shoppach minus the attitude.

Those are my potential options for back-up catcher in Boston.  My top choice is easily David Ross, but Chris Snyder is my second choice.  (Provided Jose Molina doesn’t become available.)  On Friday, I’ll discuss free agent infielders.

 

Categories: Boston Red Sox Chris Snyder David Ross Gerald Laird Jarrod Saltalamacchia Jose Molina Kelly Shoppach Ryan Lavarnway Yorvit Torrealba

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

5 Responses to “Playing the GM Part 3: The Free Agent Catching Options” Subscribe

  1. Mr Punch October 23, 2012 at 2:01 PM #

    Ross is a good choice – I see Salty traded for pitching. In that regard, I think your "biggest assumption" isn't any of the three you cite – it's that Buchholz is a #2 starter. There's really no evidence for that; he wasn't as bad as the others this year, but he wasn't a #2 for a good team, and that last performance kind of took the shine off his second-half improvement (he was the worst player on the field with the Pawtucket lineup out there). And that's why I foresee a trade for a pitcher.

    • ChipBuck October 23, 2012 at 2:38 PM #

      I never said that Buchholz was good enough to be a #2 starter. I only predicted he would be the #2 on 2013 Red Sox. Those are huge differences. Nowhere within this article (or Part 2 on pitchers) did I evaluate Buchholz to even hint at that.

      Also, one start doesn't negate the progress made in the previous 19. Sometimes a bad start is just that–a bad start. It's not really worth reading too much into it.

      • gerry October 25, 2012 at 6:19 PM #

        If that were the case, Verlander's drubbing by Los Gigantes last night makes him a risky bet to pitch again, which is nonsense.

        The Mets are looking for a C and RP and may trade Ike Davis. Salty and one of our many RP's would no doubt be a good coup for NY in return for Davis. With Lava + Davis combining for a possible 60HR and 70-80 doubles would be fun to watch. Salty's 25HR + Duda's production should make the Mets happy.

        As you suggest, Ross would be a great backup, helping both Lava and the pitchers improve. On the other hand, Napoli + Sands + Lava could cover 1B and C, allowing three more position players on the bench in addition to Sands. With good defender Butler just
        an hour away, this could strengthen the team in yet another good way. Lots of good choices.

  2. Daniel Poarch October 26, 2012 at 6:32 PM #

    I have a hard time getting excited about backup catchers, but David Ross is awesome!

    • gerry October 31, 2012 at 4:06 PM #

      Oh well! Ross and Molina are being brought back by the Braves and Rays. Either Salty and Lava return and play about half the games, and not fading down the stretch on either side of the plate, or Ben will get creative. What offense is possible from the two of them, both with full seasons under thei belts and at about $5-6M combined??? .250/.340/.475 with 40HR, 40 doubles?? And with rest and the modified platoon comfortable for both, and Farrell back, might they improve their defensive skills, including game calling and throwing out runners??