Back in October, Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said the club would "explore additions" at the catcher position during the offseason.
That statement led many to believe Boston would be in the mix for one of the top free agents: Willson Contreras, Omar Narvaez, Mike Zunino, or longtime Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. There also were rumors of a possible trade for Sean Murphy before the Oakland A's dealt the star backstop to the Atlanta Braves.
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The Red Sox ultimately chose to stick with their tandem of Reese McGuire -- acquired from the Chicago White Sox ahead of the 2022 trade deadline -- and Connor Wong. Their only move to address the catcher position was the signing of Jorge Alfaro to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Will the decision to not spend on a catcher come back to bite Boston in 2023? Can we expect a legitimate catcher competition in spring training? Here's a closer look at what to expect from the Red Sox catchers.
2022 stats: .269/.307/.369, 3 HR, 22 RBI (89 games with White Sox and Red Sox)
Barring any surprises, McGuire is your starting Red Sox catcher for the 2023 campaign. The soon-to-be 28-year-old will assume the role after being one of the club's few bright spots down the stretch last season. After joining Boston at the trade deadline, McGuire put together a .337/.377/.500 slash line with three homers and five doubles in 36 games. Just don't expect that kind of production over the course of a full season as McGuire has never been known for his prowess at the plate. Most of his value will come from his defense and his game-calling ability, both of which are above average.
Best-case scenario for 2023: McGuire carries his momentum from the second half of last season into 2023 and has a career year at the plate.
Worst-case scenario for 2023: McGuire fails to produce at the bottom of the lineup and can't make up for it with his defense, showing why the Red Sox should have invested in Sean Murphy or one of the top free-agent catchers this offseason.
2022 stats: .188/.273/.313, 1 HR, 7 RBI (27 games)
Wong -- one of the pieces acquired from L.A. in the infamous Mookie Betts trade -- took a big step forward in Triple-A last season before being promoted to the MLB club in September. The 26-year-old cut down on the strikeouts and showed off his power with 15 homers and a .838 OPS with Worcester. He'll battle with Alfaro in camp for the backup catcher job.
Best-case scenario for 2023: Wong carries his impressive Triple-A power and game-calling ability to the big leagues and provides a solid backup option behind McGuire.
Worst-case scenario for 2023: Wong's Triple-A success doesn't translate to the majors and he loses the backup job to Alfaro.
2022 stats: .246/.285/.383, 7 HR, 40 RBI (82 games with San Diego Padres)
Alfaro isn't on the 40-man roster just yet as he'll have to earn that spot with a strong spring training. He'll make a $ 2 million salary if he makes the major league roster out of camp. After showing off his power with the Padres last year and with Licey of the Dominican Winter League, Alfaro will need to show he can match his offensive production with solid defense. The Wong/Alfaro competition will be one of the more intriguing Red Sox storylines in the month leading up to Opening Day.
Best-case scenario for 2023: Alfaro wins the backup catcher job and becomes a fan favorite with his impressive pop and incredible hair.
Worst-case scenario for 2023: Alfaro never makes the 40-man roster and opts out of his Red Sox deal, which he is eligible to do on June 1 and July 1.