Catching options are vanishing off the table as top two free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz have already signed with the Yankees and Phillies respectively. This puts the Red Sox in a precarious position with no major catching options either internally or externally. Last year’s starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who put up a solid .273/.338/.466 slash line in 2013, is currently a free agent but may be due to regression after a .372 BABIP in 2013. With Saltalamacchia the best catcher on the market, the Red Sox will need to make a decision soon.
There are no realistic starting catchers after Saltamacchia; however, a recent report states that the Red Sox have had internal discussions about starting the season with Ryan Lavarnway as the starter. Over 82 plate appearances in 2013, Lavarnway slashed a respectable .299/.329/.429, but is only a career .208/.258/.327 hitter over 291 plate appearances and has highly suspect defense at the position.
The only other realistic internal option is Dan Butler, who slashed .262/.350/.479 with good defense at Triple-A. He is yet to play in a major league game, though, and should not be counted on for good production. None of these catchers would have to play as much as a normal starter as David Ross is a very able backup; however, the options still aren’t inspiring.
The Red Sox should offer a two or three year deal to Saltalamacchia, who will be in his prime for the next few years (even if regression is in order). If he does not accept, then and only then should they rely on internal options as the other free agents behind Salty are not realistic starters either. However, Saltalamacchia should be the priority– not Lavarnway or Butler.