This morning, the Red Sox signed free agent catcher David Ross to a two-year, $6.2MM contract. The 35-year-old is widely regarded as one of the reliable and best-hitting back-up catchers in baseball.
Ross has served as the backup to Brian McCann for Atlanta since 2009, and spent time with Cincinnati, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and even Boston for 9 plate appearances in 2008. He hasn’t racked up more than 200 plate appearances since 2007, but consistently puts up solid numbers in his limited role. Defensively, Ross is more than solid and makes it tough for other teams to run, throwing out 44% of runners last year.
Ken Rosenthal hears that Ross will be “more than a backup but not a starter,” leading me to believe the Sox will set out to deal Saltalamacchia and set up a platoon situation with Ross and Lavarnway. Lavarnway would pull in much more in a trade, but the Sox have put a lot of work into him and are getting ready to reap the benefits and keep him in their long-term plans. It’s possible that Salty could move to first, since he’s capable of playing there, but I find it unlikely that the Sox will go that route. With so many teams in need of either a starting or back-up catcher, Salty is valuable trade bait and there are other options for first base.
Overall, I like this move. A veteran backstop like Ross can be a massive help to this pitching staff, and he provides a solid platoon option for Lavarnway, who I’m not convinced could be the sole starter at this point. It’ll be interesting to see what the Red Sox can pull in for someone like Salty, but it’s obvious Cherington has something up his sleeve.