By Jeff Louderback
The catching tandem in Boston will be different in 2013. According to FoxSports.com, the Red Sox have signed 35-year-old backstop David Ross to a two-year, $6.2 million deal.
Ross was one of the top catchers on the free agent market. After a brief stint with Boston in 2008 – when he appeared in eight games and compiled nine plate appearances – Ross has spent the last four seasons in Atlanta. Over 196 plate appearances in 2012, he hit .256 with a .770 OPS with nine home runs and 23 RBI.
The 27-year-old Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter whose bat is significantly better from the left side than the right side. Ross is a right-handed hitter. Saltalamacchia’s defense has been questioned numerous times, though. He slugged 25 home runs in 2012 but hit just .222 with a .288 on-base percentage.
Lavarnway, who is 25, was named Boston’s 2010 Minor League Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 when he belted 32 home runs between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He has reportedly made dramatic improvements behind the plate, but he struggled to hit Major League pitching in his first extended stretch with the Red Sox late last season when he batted .153 with two home runs, 12 RBI and a .459 OPS in 153 at-bats.
Since Lavarnway was options remaining, they could choose to have him open the 2013 campaign at Pawtucket and combine Saltalamacchia and Ross.
Boston has intriguing 22-year-old catching prospect Christian Vazquez, who recently played in the Arizona Fall League, is an exceptional defensive catcher with some power at the plate, and is slated to open 2013 at Portland.
Blake Swihart, Boston’s first round pick out of high school in 2011, is considered the club’s catcher of the future and has a high ceiling, yet he is only 20 and will likely spend 2013 at advanced Single-A Salem (Va.)
Since Ross is a plus defensive catcher with a strong arm who can control an opposing team’s baserunning, and he has pop in his right-handed bat, he would be a complement to Saltalamacchia’s power from the left side. This would allow Lavarnway to get more time developing his catching skills at Pawtucket and provide the Red Sox with added depth behind the plate.