BEN: Starting C Wanted, Salty Again or Hanigan? Lavarnway, Way!


Even those fans who are “Ben Believers” are getting a little twitchy about the lack of a Starting catcher for 2014.

Maybe GM Ben Cherington, MLB Executive of the Year, is just prudently letting the FA market forces determine what contract [amount and length] is the going rate for Saltalamacchia, or maybe he has a trade cooking, but, certainly, the FA pool level is dropping to “Stage One” pond scum.

As of yesterday, these are the FA catchers in that shallow, tepid pond:

Henry Blanco
John Buck
Hector Gimenez
Ramon Hernandez
Humbertor QuinteroKoyie Hill
A.J. Pierzynski
Dioner Navarro
Wil Nieves
Miguel Olivo

Pierzynski and Navarro are the only two ranked in the Top 200 FAs by Yahoo Sports and Miguel Olivo is an aging veteran.  Cherington would not likely go more than two years on a contract with any of these three.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes that the Red Sox have had internal discussions about entering 2014 with Ryan Lavarnway as the team’s primary catcher. Boston is more interested in a stopgap option as they await the arrival of Christian Vasquez and Blake Swihart at the big league level and is therefore reluctant to strengthen its existing two-year offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

If the FA market is not appealing and Saltalamacchia wants too much money or too long a contract, there is chance that GM Ben is negotiating a trade with the REDS for Ryan Hanigan.

  • Career CS% 40 percent; lead NL last 2 years with 48% [2012], 45% [2013].
  • Career .995 Fld. Avg. and .998 last season.
  • Career .265 hitter, .359 OBP, .343 SLG, .703 OPS.
  • More Ws than Ks in all 7 years; Career totals 189/159.
  • Salary under $3 million per year; Arb Eligible: 2014, Free Agent: 2015 [*],
  • Agent is NOT Scott Boras, but Tom O’Connell.
  • Hometown hero: Andover HS (Andover, MA).
  • Irish.

Recently, Tiger catcher, Brayan Pena, signed with the Reds, who released catcher Corky Miller. But with three catchers on the roster, you have to wonder if the Reds might put Ryan Hanigan on the market. []

Hanigan, who had a terrible 2013 season at the plate [.198] for a pitching or OF prospect, say LHP Brian Johnson [#10], Ryan Kalish or Bryce Brentz [#8].


  • Excellent defense and could split game load with Ross, 100-62.
  • Decent batter [.262], who will take the W and not K as much as Salty.
  • Thrifty solution for a year or two, buys time to watch Ryan Lavarnway [26], Christian Vazquez [23], Blake Swihart [21].

In his weekly interview on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show, ESPN’s Buster Olney on Hanigan:

I think Ryan Hannigan is an interesting stopgap for the Red Sox. We know that the Tampa Bay Rays have always had a lot of interest before 2013.

He was a high on-base percentage guy who was dealing with a wrist injury last year so he wasn’t healthy, didn’t hit.

He doesn’t really hit for power. In that regard, he doesn’t really fit the prototype for the Red Sox.

But it feels like it’s kind of a bridge year for their catchers. It feels like if they buy a little time, they can develop those catchers. I think he would be an option.

Then again, Salty has indicated that he is quite happy with the Sox:

“I’ve said it all year long. This is a great place to play,” Saltalamacchia said the day of the World Series parade. “It’s been a home for me for the past three or four years, and things are going to work out the way they’re going to work out. We’re just going to have to kind of sit and wait and see.”

While he may never be an above average defender, but considering the comfort he has gained with the pitching staff and his change from a HR-K hitter to more of a doubles hitter with an improved BA, may result in a compromise contract for 2 years and parity money.

But it takes two sides to make a deal, and general manager Ben Cherington will have to exhaust all avenues to see what is best for the club.

Cherington stated the obvious at the Winter Meetings:

“There’s a bunch of teams that seemingly have a need or a potential need, and there are a bunch of guys out there…I think it will be one of the more interesting positions to watch, because there’s likely to be activity there, and potentially some trades, too, not just free agency. We’ll see. It’s obviously a position that we may want to look to do something with. We’re going to keep talking about all the available options and see what comes our way.”

Saltalamacchia is coming off his best all-around season offensively with career highs in doubles (40), RBIs (65), slugging percentage (.466) and OPS (.804). The home runs dropped from 25 in ’12 to 14 this past season, but that was a product of the improvement he made in his overall approach.

Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, remains a much better hitter from the left side, which is why Boston remains such a good fit for him with Ross, the excellent defender and RHB, Ross, whose strength offensively is against LHPs.


FA? Hanigan trade? Salty?