The Red Sox have assembled one of the best collections of catchers in all of baseball. And if you think that speaks to the paucity of passable backstops in the game as much as it does Boston’s roster construction, you’re right.

Not many organizations would be able to keep a player like Ryan Lavarnway in the minors. Photo by Kelly O'Connor, sittingstill.net

Not many organizations would be able to keep a player like Ryan Lavarnway in the minors. Photo by Kelly O’Connor, sittingstill.net

As you all know, the Red Sox currently have Jarrod Saltalamacchia slated as their starter, David Ross penciled in as their backup – albeit one who’ll see considerable playing time for someone in that roll – and post-prospect Ryan Lavarnway waiting for injury or opportunity in Triple-A.

Perhaps this is not the most inspiring list of names in the world, as none among Salty, Ross or Lavarnway profile as someone capable of performing like a Top 15 catcher in the league. They all could profile as Top 20 options, though, and in that the Red Sox have something exceedingly rare.

I’m not going to waste any more time setting this up: let’s just look at how the Sox’ backstop depth ranks against others in the AL East.

AL East Catcher Depth Charts

BAL

BOS

NYY

TB

TOR

M. Wieters J. Salty F. Cervelli J. Molina J. Arencibia
T. Teagarden D. Ross C. Stewart J. Lobaton J. Thole
L. Exposito R. Lavarnway A. Romine R. Chirinos H. Blanco

Now let’s stack Boston’s roster against four other organizations I personally consider to have enviable catching depth.It’s pretty clear to me that Boston has the best catching depth in the division, with Toronto a very distant second. Baltimore has the best catcher overall and Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos are interesting players for the Rays, but they can’t compare. And after letting Russell Martin sign with the Pirates in the offseason, the Yankees have possibly the worst catching squad in the game.

MLB Deepest Catcher Depth Charts

BOS

COL

MIN

SEA

SD

J. Salty W. Rosario J. Mauer J. Montero Y. Grandal*
D. Ross R. Hernandez R. Doumit K. Shoppach N. Hundley
R. Lavarnway J. Pacheco J. Butera** M. Zunino J. Baker

We’re still looking pretty good, right? Mauer is the best player obviously, and I’d argue San Diego has the best overall depth once Yasmani Grandal returns from his suspension, but Boston clearly belongs in this discussion.*Faces 50-game suspension for PED use.

**Fine, not really close to starting-caliber catcher, but it’s damn hard to find three in an organization so shhh.

By extending our search to Top Three catching options, we’re obviously painting a pretty rosy picture for the Red Sox. Despite Boston’s enviable depth, just about anyone would take the Giants’ duo of Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez over what we have, and you can make an argument for the Carlos Santana/Lou Marson or Ryan Hanigan/Devin Mesoraco combos, and a few others as well.

At the same time, we’ve compared lists without factoring in Mike Napoli who, balky hips and all, should be able to catch 25-35 games this season without collapsing into a pile of beard and tattoo behind home plate. If you want to dig even deeper, the Red Sox also have one of the best five-to-seven catching prospects in the game in Blake Swihart, although he’s still two-plus years away.

An organization that goes four-deep in at least fringe-acceptable starting catchers is impressive, and will afford the Red Sox tremendous flexibility if someone is injured or a plethora of trade opportunities if everyone stays healthy.

After becoming familiar with names such as Kevin Cash, Dusty Brown, Gustavo Molina and The Artist Backstop Formerly Known As Jason Varitek in recent years, such luxuries should be easy to appreciate.

Categories: Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Blake Swihart Buster Posey Carlos Santana Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies David Ross Dusty Brown Francisco Cervelli Gustavo Molina J.P. Arencibia Jarrod Saltalamacchia Jason Varitek Jesus Montero Joe Mauer John Jaso Jose Lobaton Jose Molina Kevin Cash Matt Wieters Mike Napoli Mike Zunino Minnesota Twins New York Yankees Ryan Doumit Ryan Hanigan Ryan Lavarnway San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants Seattle Mariners Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays Yasmani Grandal

Ben is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in journalism and a love of all things Red Sox and minor league baseball. He has experience writing for Baseball Prospectus, NESN, RotoExperts, BU Today and other sites, and typically serves as an in-house MiLB writer. An editor for a business website by day, Ben likes to grill, sample IPAs and re-read Faulkner novels by night. He is an unabashed J.D. Drew apologist with a deep-seated fear of middle relievers. Follow Ben on Twitter here.

4 Responses to “The Backstop Backups” Subscribe

  1. Steven H February 25, 2013 at 4:22 PM #

    Jaso was traded from Seattle to Oakland on January 16 in a three team swap.

  2. Steve H February 25, 2013 at 4:41 PM #

    John Jaso was traded from Seattle to Oakland January 16th

    • Steve h February 25, 2013 at 4:43 PM #

      Sorry for the repeat. It looked like my first commented didn't go through

      • Ben Carsley February 26, 2013 at 6:50 AM #

        Yes, yes he was. My apologies.