It’s sort of a birthday present for Alfaro, who turns 30 on Sunday. He began the season on a minor league deal with the Red Sox and was assigned to Triple-A Worcester, where he put up an excellent line of .320/.366/.520 through 43 games. That production amounted to a 119 wRC+, indicating he was 19% better than league average.
He had the ability to opt out of that contract on June 1 and July 1 and exercised the first of those opt-outs, hardly a surprise given his hot start to the year. The Red Sox could have prevented Alfaro from getting away by giving him a spot on their roster but decided to stick with their tandem of Reese McGuire and Connor Wong, allowing Alfaro to return to the open market.
Alfaro now finds a new home with the Rockies, an organization that has some question marks in its catching corps. Elias Díaz is the club’s primary backstop and he is having a solid season, hitting .299/.355/.459 for a wRC+ of 107. He’s also been worth three Defensive Runs Saved on defense. However, he was removed from today’s game after he was hit in the mask by a foul ball. “We were cautionary taking him out, based on a blow last night and that one today,” manager Bud Black told Patrick Lyons of DNVR. “I think it made sense to take him out. (Trainer Keith Duggar) is confident that he’s going to be fine. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
The club’s backup is Austin Wynns, who is hitting just .190/.255/.238 this year for a wRC+ of 28. Brian Serven is on the 40-man roster and currently on optional assignment with Albuquerque, though he’s hitting just .260/.289/.438 at that level for a 64 wRC+ and had a line of .130/.130/.174 in the majors earlier this year.
The Rockies will now add Alfaro into the mix amid those other options. Once a top 100 prospect, Alfaro hasn’t quite clicked in the majors despite continually crushing in the minors. He’s hit .256/.305/.396 in his major league career for a wRC+ of 89 and also received subpar marks for his defensive work.
If Alfaro can get back up to the majors, the timing will potentially be important for his future status. He currently has five years and 83 days of major league service time. Since a new “year” flips over at 172 days, he is currently 89 days shy of the six-year mark that comes with automatic free agency. If he were called up in the middle of July or later and finally had his long-awaited breakout, he would come up short of that mark and could be retained by the Rockies via arbitration for another season. It’s also possible that his new deal contains opt-outs similar to his deal with the Red Sox, though that’s not publicly known at this time.