Red Sox News: Boston trades for catcher, FA interest in Tommy Pham, Tony Kemp

Sep 8, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jordan Romano (68) and catcher Tyler
Sep 8, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jordan Romano (68) and catcher Tyler / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the weekend, the Boston Red Sox added to the 40-man roster and reportedly expressed interest in two free agent candidates. None of this will fix any of the glaring holes in the roster, but they're something.

On Friday evening, the Red Sox acquired catcher Tyler Heineman from the Mets in exchange for cash. New York DFA'd the catcher earlier in the week and Boston did the same to Max Castillo to make room for Heineman.

Heineman is going into his age-33 season and has relatively little big-league experience. The switch-hitter debuted in 2019 for the Miami Marlins and hasn't played more than 52 games with a single team since. He finished his 2023 campaign with the Blue Jays and he never played a game for the Mets — they picked him up in December and DFA'd him less than two months later.

The Red Sox traded for C Tyler Heineman and are showing interest in Tony Kemp, Tommy Pham

The catcher has been in the minors since 2012 and he's a career .280/.361/.404 hitter there. He can make contact and get on base with some consistency, but he can't slug. In his 125 minor league at-bats from 2023, Heineman walked 25 times and struck out 35 times. His walk, K and whiff rates have been historically as good, if not better.

In his 104 major league games, Heineman's bat hasn't been as good as it's been in the minors. He's hit .218/.297/.282 in his major league games.

Heineman is the Red Sox's third about-league-average defensive catcher with an underwhelming bat. His ability to switch hit is interesting, but his power and consistency aren't there in the big leagues.

Boston's interest in two other players surfaced over the weekend, too. The Sox have looked into Tommy Pham and Tony Kemp to round out the roster, per MLB insiders Jon Heyman and Robert Murray.

Neither Pham nor Kemp addresses the Red Sox's biggest needs. Neither can consistently hit for power and Kemp's bat isn't great overall.

Pham played with the Red Sox after they acquired him before the trade deadline in 2022. He started off hot in a Sox uniform, but his production stalled by the end of the season. He hit .234/.298/.374 with six home runs and 24 RBI during his stint in Boston.

Kemp isn't a dependable hitter, but he's a known leader in the clubhouse, and after letting Justin Turner walk away, the Red Sox could use another established player with such a reputation.

The infielder/outfielder is a below-league-average defender and his swing leaves much to be desired, but he strikes out so rarely that he finds himself on base quite a bit. In his 2023 season, Kemp walked 44 times and struck out 40, good for a K percentage of 9.5, which Baseball Savant ranks in the 100th percentile in the league.

Heineman, Kemp and Pham continue the Red Sox's interest in lackluster players. Gary Sánchez and Jorge Soler are still on the market and they fill Boston's fielding and batting needs more than any of the other aforementioned names.

As more of the Red Sox's interests come to light, it gets increasingly clearer that they never had any intention of making the team better this year — not as long as it costs money to do so.

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