The Red Sox have claimed catcher Caleb Hamilton off waivers from the Twins, according to the transactions tracker at MLB.com. Outfielder Abraham Almonte was designated for assignment in a corresponding 40-man move. Chris Cotillo of MassLive confirmed the transactions (on Twitter).
Hamilton changes organizations for the first time in his career. The Oregon State product entered the professional ranks as a late-round Twins draftee back in 2016. He’s spent seven years climbing the minor league ladder and was rewarded with his first big league call when Ryan Jeffers landed on the injured list in mid-July. He appeared in 22 MLB games but only started four times and tallied 23 plate appearances. He struck out in 14 of them, an obviously untenable rate. He did, however, collect his first big league hit — a solo homer off José Quijada.
The 27-year-old spent the majority of the season at Triple-A St. Paul, where he had a solid showing. Over 251 plate appearances, he hit .233/.367/.442 with 11 home runs. He went down on strikes 26.7% of the time and didn’t post a particularly impressive batting average, but he showed the best power of his professional career and worked walks at a stellar 17.1% clip. That patient plate approach is clearly of some interest to the Red Sox, who add Hamilton to Reese McGuire, Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez as backstops on the 40-man roster.
Hamilton only exhausted his first of three minor league options this year. If he holds his spot on the 40-man roster, the Sox can shuttle him between Boston and Triple-A Worcester for the foreseeable future. He’s still three years away from arbitration eligibility, so he’d be an affordable depth option for the Red Sox if they devote him a 40-man position.
Almonte is a journeyman who has gotten to the majors in each of the past nine years. He cracked Boston’s roster after the team had fallen out of contention in September, appearing in 15 games down the stretch. The switch-hitter picked up nine hits, including a homer, in 37 plate appearances. Still, it never seemed likely the Red Sox would tender him an arbitration contract this offseason. His projected $900K salary wasn’t onerous, but he always looked like a temporary stopgap for the season’s final few weeks.
The Red Sox will place Almonte on waivers in the next few days. He’s virtually certain to clear and elect free agency, as is his right as a player with more than five years of MLB service. The 33-year-old is coming off a .293/.417/.534 showing in Triple-A, so he shouldn’t have an issue finding another minor league opportunity with a Spring Training invitation this winter.