TODAY: MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that the Red Sox are granting Alfaro his release. Going forward, Alfaro figures to re-enter the free agent market as a quality depth option for catching-needy clubs.
June 1: Veteran catcher Jorge Alfaro has exercised an opt-out in his minor league deal with the Red Sox and is planning to test free agency, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. The Red Sox technically have 48 hours to add Alfaro to the roster before granting him his release. However, manager Alex Cora expressed comfort with current backstops Connor Wong and Reese McGuire last night and implied that the Sox weren’t likely to make any changes behind the plate, so it makes sense that Alfaro will explore other opportunities after a strong start to his season in Triple-A.
Alfaro, 30 next week, has gotten out to a hefty .320/.366/.520 start in Worcester this season. He’s connected on six homers, 13 doubles and even a pair of triples, adding a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts as well. Despite that hot start, Cora’s comments last night seem to suggest that Alfaro’s next big league opportunity won’t come with the Red Sox — at least not at this time. An injury in the next couple days could change that, but otherwise he appears quite likely to return to the market and look for an opportunity elsewhere.
The combination of Wong and McGuire have provided passable offense despite bloated strikeout rates, with McGuire’s sky-high BABIP in particularly making him something of a regression candidate. That duo hasn’t provided the defensive value the Sox hoped entering the season, however. McGuire is just 1-for-22 in terms of halting stolen bases, while Wong ranks among baseball’s worst pitch framers and pitch blockers, per Statcast.
Alfaro is just 5-for-35 in throwing out opposing baserunners this season, but Baseball Prospectus gives him average grades in terms of both pitch framing and pitch blocking. Alfaro doesn’t have a strong big league track record either defensively or offensively — he’s a career .256/.305/.396 hitter in the Majors — but there are so many teams in search of catching help that he could quickly find another opportunity elsewhere. Speculatively speaking, the Guardians and Padres are among the postseason hopefuls receiving negligible contributions behind the plate in 2023, but there are certainly other clubs that could take a look if (or perhaps when) Alfaro returns to the market.