The Red Sox have made their first meaningful addition of the offseason today, coming to terms on a deal with David Ross. This deal is said to be for two years and is worth $6.2 million total. Ross will bring a certain degree of veteran leadership and defensive talent behind the plate, as he’s generally looked on as a strong defensive catcher. In fact, Ken Rosenthal remarks that Ross has been the “best backup catcher in baseball” the past few years, as he’s backed up perennial All-Star Brian McCann.
Ross is no slouch as a backup, however, as he’s been a pretty consistently good catcher who could certainly start on more than a few teams. In 62 games and 196 at bats with the Braves in 2012, Ross hit to a respectable .256/.321/.449 slash line with 7 home runs and 23 RBIs. Those stats are on line and even slightly better than the 35 year old’s career line of .238/.324/.444 through his 11 year career between six teams (including the Red Sox for 8 games in 2008).
Rosenthal states that Ross will be “more than a backup, but less than a starter,” indicating a potential platoon with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Ross’s .241 batting average against lefties is far superior to Salty’s .170 mark. However, so is his average against right-handers (.268 to .230). Saltalamacchia displays better power, though, so it would probably be a platoon of Saltalamacchia versus righties and Ross versus lefties.
This acquisition gives Ryan Lavarnway more time to mature in the minor leagues. He was clearly overmatched when he was promoted in August 2012, posting just a .157/.211/.248 slash line as a 25 year old. Lavarnway still has plenty of potential, but it’s best not to hurt his confidence too much and allow him for time to embarrass himself at the big league level for now.
I think this is an excellent acquisition for the Red Sox as they haven’t increased their payroll by much, but have acquired a solid, dependable catcher for the next two years. Ross calls a good game and is otherwise strong defensively, something the Red Sox have lacked since the departure of Jason Varitek. Hopefully, this paves the way to great things this offseason, including, but not limited to signing somebody else with the last name Ross.