Spring training is officially here. The Boston Red Sox have had a busy offseason, but there are still questions to be answered.
Several spots on the Red Sox Opening Day roster are undecided as spring training begins
While a few positions seem to be set in stone, there are a few positions battles that will likely be won in spring training. Here are 5 positions and the respective candidates to watch this spring.
Red Sox back-up catcher (Connor Wong or Jorge Alfaro)
The Red Sox brought in catcher Jorge Alfaro this offseason, but not necessarily to be the team's backup catcher. Alfaro was signed on just a minor league deal, while Reese McGuire and Connor Wong are the only two catchers on the 40-man roster. This establishes a three-man race for the major league roster. McGuire should have cemented the starting job after a strong showing in 2022. The backup spot could go to whoever has the better spring.
Connor Wong is yet to figure out big league pitching. In his 33 major league games, he's hit .213/.290/.361 with a .651 OPS, 78 OPS+, and 1 home run. His AAA line is better, as he posted a .838 OPS in 81 games last season, but plenty of players have shown success in AAA while failing to replicate that success in the MLB. At 26, Wong's AAA hitting stats are unimpressive. Defensively, he looks just fine, but with a very small sample size; he has, however, shown excellent arm strength.
Jorge Alfaro has shown flashes in his career, and he rebounded after two poor seasons, hitting .246/.285/.383 with a .667 OPS and 94 OPS+ in 2022. That's about on par with his best seasons, so fans can probably expect him to put up similar or worse numbers in 2023. His glove is worse than Wong's, though he's actually shown even better arm strength, a pop time in the 96th percentile, per Baseball Savant.
Neither are top-tier catchers at this stage, and neither are likely to be the team's starting catcher; however, Alfaro has a better track record in the MLB. He also comes with much more experience than Wong, and while Wong could still have the higher ceiling if he figures out his bat, Alfaro is a safer backup option. I expect him to break camp with the team, but the spot could go to either catcher.