Red Sox Shopping Ryan Lavarnway

Given their considerable depth behind the plate, the Red Sox have begun shopping Ryan Lavarnway, a source tells Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England. A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross will form the primary catching tandem at the Major League level, while Christian Vazquez and Daniel Butler will handle the catching duties at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Boston has experimented with using Lavarnway at first base during Spring Training, which would likely be where he would receive most of his at-bats were he to open the season at Pawtucket. However, while that bit of experience could make him slightly more appealing in a trade, he's more valuable to the Red Sox or another club when he's catching.

The 26-year-old Lavarnway was once considered Boston's catcher of the future and has ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus as recently as 2012. He boasts a gaudy .284/.373/.471 batting line in 845 career plate appearances at Triple-A, although it's worth noting that he slipped to a .250/.346/.350 triple-slash in 2013. Lavarnway has also struggled at the Major League level, batting just .208/.258/.327 in 291 PAs.

Many teams figure to be looking for catching help at this time of the year, and Lavarnway is attractive in that he can be controlled through at least the 2018 season (he has one year, 40 days of Major League service time). The Pirates learned today that Chris Stewart will probably need knee surgery (hat tip: Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Twitter), though they likely feel that they have another capable backup to Russell Martin in-house in the form of Tony Sanchez.

The White Sox strike me as a possible fit, as they did little to address that need this offseason and are planning to give Tyler Flowers another opportunity at the job. Lavarnway would fit GM Rick Hahn's stated goal of adding controllable talent, and he's also younger than Flowers with a slightly better minor league track record. The Orioles are also said to be looking outside the organization for candidates to back-up Matt Wieters. Arizona has asked for catchers in trade proposals for their young shortstops as well; while Lavarnway wouldn't be enough for GM Kevin Towers to part with Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius, the mere fact that the D'Backs have prioritized catchers seems to suggest that they wouldn't mind adding some depth. Of course, all of these potential fits are just speculation on my behalf.


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