This morning, we ran across Tim Britton’s article in the Providence Journal about the Sox’ depth at catcher. He states that we are deeper at catcher than anyone else in baseball. We agree. And we love it. We’ll explain why, but here’s the quick breakdown of catchers:
Jarrod Saltalmacchia, 27, signed through 2013
David Ross, 35, signed through 2014
The November acquisition of Ross led to rampant speculation that the Red Sox would move either Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway. But as the calendar turns to February, that still hasn’t happened. As a result, Boston’s big-league depth behind the plate is the envy of most of the majors…
Saltalamacchia is penciled in as the starter so long as he’s wearing the uniform. He’s become a known quantity over the past two seasons — see his repeating .288 on-base percentage for proof of that — and while far from spectacular, he has developed into a solid backstop.
Ross comes aboard with a reputation as one of the game’s best backups, and the expectation of playing a bit more than the typical second-stringer. He, too, has a decent amount of power for a catcher, and he brings some on-base skills from the right side of the plate.
Ryan Lavarnway, 25
His offensive production did indeed take a step back with the PawSox a year ago, and he looked lost at the plate during his stint in the majors over the last two months.
Dan Butler, 26
Christian Vazquez, 22
Butler and Vazquez have seen their fates intertwined of late: Both were promoted behind Lavarnway in August, and both were added to the 40-man roster this offseason.
Blake Swihart, 20
A first-round pick in 2011, Swihart acclimated himself to the idea of catching regularly during his first full professional season last year. He played only 92 games because of periodic rest and a late-summer hip injury, but he showed steady improvement over the course of the season. He hit .284 after an abysmal April.
That’s a solid group right there. And here’s another thing: as a group, they’re pretty young. What’s good about catching depth is great for multiple reasons. Firstly, catchers need breaks. They get beat up behind the plate on a daily basis. They need to rest their legs. So having viable backups at that position is always a good thing. Next reason is that catchers are a hot commodity. As much as it would suck to see one of these promising guys go, it’s a business and at some point we’re going to have to move one or more of them. They are extremely attractive trade bait. So while we want to see all these pan out, it’s likely we will see them end up with another team.