The Dodgers announced that they have claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Red Sox and designated fellow backstop Drew Butera for assignment (Twitter link).
The 27-year-old Lavarnway has seen MLB action in parts of four seasons with the Red Sox but failed to establish himself at the plate, having posted a combined .201/.249/.315 batting line in 301 plate appearances. Formerly ranked as a Top 100 prospect by both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, Lavarnway has a strong minor league track record, including a .284/.377/.448 triple-slash in 1102 Triple-A plate appearances. He comes with more upside at the plate than the defense-first, though Lavarnway has caught just 10 of 63 potential base-stealers in the Majors (16 percent) and didn’t stand out in terms of pitch-framing in his two longest Major League stints.
Butera, 31, is a glove-first catcher that has never hit much at any level and owns just a .183/.239/.268 batting line in the Majors. However, his reputation behind the plate has led to him receiving 733 plate appearances between the Twins and Dodgers (192 with L.A. in 2014) in spite of his deficiencies with the bat.
The Dodgers’ catching situation remains in flux, as the team was in hard on Russell Martin earlier this offseason and has recently been linked to Yasmani Grandal in trade rumors. A.J. Ellis typically steady bat took a large step backwards in 2014, and improving the production behind the plate appears to be a priority for the new front office regime.