What does Red Sox catching look like in 2024?

JM3

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On the 40-man and under contract for next season
Connor Wong (R) 82 wRC+, .682 OPS, 0.7 fWAR, 1.7 bWAR - 3 more pre-arb years (27)
Reese McGuire (L) 79 wRC+, .672 OPS, 0.3 fWAR, -0.5 bWAR - Arb 2 (29)

Out of Minor League Options
Ronaldo Hernández (R) AAA (SoxProspects Not ranked/my #69 prospect) - 105 wRC+, .840 OPS (26) - I think this is the correct way to classify him? Not 100% sure, though.

Eligible for Rule 5 Draft
Stephen Scott (L) AAA (#41/#28) - 133 wRC+, .969 OPS (26) - Probably needs protecting if they want to keep him. Defense is still a work in progress, but he's been mashing.

They have some other guys eligible, but they are all quite far away from needing to be held onto, so I'll just put the Rule 5 dates as part of the next section.

The Catcher Pipeline
The Red Sox suddenly have a good amount of solid catching throughout the organization. Let's talk about that (ages as always for next season):

Kyle Teel (L) A+ (#5/#7) - 240 wRC+, 1.1413 OPS - 1 game (22) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2026 - He'll be 5 or 6 when I updated my rankings. Yesterday was a really fun A+ debut.

Johanfran Garcia (R) FCL (#14/#13) - 140 wRC+, .921 OPS (19) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2026

Nathan Hickey (L) AA (#18/#26) - 130 wRC+, .834 OPS (24) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2024

Brooks Brannon (R) A (#36/#24) - 170 wRC+, .987 OPS (19) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2026

Enderso Lira (R) A (#53/#56) - 60 wRC+, .565 OPS (20) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2025 - Will move down in my next rankings.

Andruw Musett (R) DSL (NR/#60) - 130 wRC+, .827 OPS (18) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2027

Ronald Rosario (R) A+ (NR/#73) - 97 wRC+, .714 OPS (20) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2023

Gerardo Rodriguez (R) DSL (NR/#94) 137 wRC+, .933 OPS (18) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2027

Alex Erro (R) A+ (NR/#99) 105 wRC+, .740 OPS (25) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2023

Kleyver Salazar (R) DSL (NR/#106) 103 wRC+, .717 OPS (17) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2027

Yorberto Mejicano (R) A+ (NR/#110) 123 wRC+, .786 OPS (22) - Rule 5 eligible 12/2023

Upcoming free agents
Elias Díaz (R) - 90 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR, 1.4 bWAR (33)
Danny Jansen (R) - 105 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR, 1.1 bWAR (28)
Travis d'Arnaud (R) - 113 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR, 0.6 bWAR (35)
Yan Gomes (R) - 99 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR, 1.3 bWAR (36)
Francisco Mejía (B) - 81 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR, 0.2 bWAR (28)
Carson Kelly (R) - 43 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR, 0.0 bWAR (29)
James McCann (R) - 68 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR, 0.4 bWAR (33)
Tomás Nido (R) - -22 wRC+, -0.6 fWAR,-0.7 bWAR (29)
Jacob Stallings (R) - 58 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR (34)
Austin Barnes (R) - 5 wRC+, -1.1 fWAR, -1.5 bWAR (34) - $3.5m team option, no buyout

My bottom line
The free agent options seem uninspiring. Wouldn't be surprised if they went into next season with Wong/McGuire again. I think they should probably add one of Scott/Hernandez to the 40-man if they can, though, & trade the other if that's a possibility.

Would probably prefer to keep Scott, but Hernandez has made a lot of progress on k/bb stuff this season & is the better defensive catcher. Last year, Hernandez walked 4.8% of the time & struck out 21% of the time. This season he has walked 11% of the time & struck out 15.8% of the time.

Technically, if there was a market for McGuire, they could trade him & go with both Hernandez & Scott. That would be a bit tricky with both Wong/Hernandez being righties & Hernandez being out of options, though.
 

simplicio

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Hernandez has been on the 40 man before and passed through waivers. I don't think he needs protecting. Scott should have a place though.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Hernandez has been on the 40 man before and passed through waivers. I don't think he needs protecting. Scott should have a place though.
His improvement this year would likely make him a target IMO. Last season it was understandable but there’s very few teams that couldn’t find a platoon spot for him.
Im predicting McGuirre and Wong to start but they’ll protect Hernandez and we’ll see him over McGuire at some point.
 

simplicio

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You think they'll protect him and Scott? 4 catchers on the 40 is kind of a lot.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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How often do catchers get taken in the rule 5? Feels like it’s difficult to hide a guy who isn’t ready at that position, especially since no teams carry three catchers anymore.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Ronaldo Hernandez is not going on the 40-man roster unless there's an emergency and they need him to fill in. He was passed over last year in the rule 5. Catcher isn't really a position that works well with the rule 5 rules unless the drafting team is desperate at the position. And if they're that desperate, they're more likely to sign journeyman free agents of the Plawecki/Alfaro variety than pick someone with zero MLB experience.
 

JM3

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How often do catchers get taken in the rule 5? Feels like it’s difficult to hide a guy who isn’t ready at that position, especially since no teams carry three catchers anymore.
Scott is mashing in AAA & Hernandez has been in AAA for a couple seasons & has improved a lot over the season. Neither is that young (both will be 26 next season) & both are probably ready to contribute to some extent to a Major League team.

Ronaldo Hernandez is not going on the 40-man roster unless there's an emergency and they need him to fill in. He was passed over last year in the rule 5. Catcher isn't really a position that works well with the rule 5 rules unless the drafting team is desperate at the position. And if they're that desperate, they're more likely to sign journeyman free agents of the Plawecki/Alfaro variety than pick someone with zero MLB experience.
Scott is kind of an interesting two-fold question:

1) Does his bat play well enough to use him at 1B or DH; &
2) Is he a good enough defensive catcher to play significant games there.

If the answer to either is yes, he will be a useful Major League player next year. If the answer to both is yes, he will be a really, really, useful player. & if the answer is neither, then yeah, he's of no use to anyone.

Right now I think #1 is more likely than #2, but I'm not expert enough on his defense to know how likely he is to get there.
 

jon abbey

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NY lost a catcher a few years ago in the rule 5, Luis Torrens, to the Padres, even though he wasn't close to ready. I agree they're not easy to hide on the 26 man roster but I also think NY will protect 4 or even 5 catchers this winter (you can see details if you care on the NY 40 man thread I posted yesterday).
 

JimD

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Scott is still fairly new to catching, which (to me, anyways) seems a little odd for a guy who's made it to Worcester already. Definitely an interesting roster decision upcoming - ideally, if you're protecting a AAA player, you'd like him to be ready soon to contribute on the major league level, right?
 

johnnywayback

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I can't imagine a scenario where they'd protect either Hernandez (who's out of options anyway and has almost zero chance of making this or any other major league roster until/unless his defense dramatically improves) or Scott. I assume they'll do the same thing next year they did this year -- be grateful for the Wong/McGuire combination and look for fungible Caleb Hamilton types to stash away on minor league deals in case of emergency.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I can't imagine a scenario where they'd protect either Hernandez (who's out of options anyway and has almost zero chance of making this or any other major league roster until/unless his defense dramatically improves) or Scott. I assume they'll do the same thing next year they did this year -- be grateful for the Wong/McGuire combination and look for fungible Caleb Hamilton types to stash away on minor league deals in case of emergency.
I was maybe misunderstanding recent comments about Hernandez, but I thought that his defense had improved. And enough that he could catch maybe once per time through a rotation? His bat looks good enough for a non-contending team to pick up and have him as that for next season IMO and hope he'd improve enough to become more of a 2/5 backup type. Good hitting Catchers are pretty hard to find, so for someone with his offensive potential I don't think it's difficult to imagine him getting claimed
 

johnnywayback

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I was maybe misunderstanding recent comments about Hernandez, but I thought that his defense had improved. And enough that he could catch maybe once per time through a rotation? His bat looks good enough for a non-contending team to pick up and have him as that for next season IMO and hope he'd improve enough to become more of a 2/5 backup type. Good hitting Catchers are pretty hard to find, so for someone with his offensive potential I don't think it's difficult to imagine him getting claimed
I'd bet a pretty large amount of money on him neither being protected nor claimed, but I think it'll be moot anyway. He's out of options and the Red Sox aren't going to dump one of Wong/McGuire to carry him on the major league roster next year, so any team that really wants him just has to wait until he's DFAd.
 

Fishy1

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I'd bet a pretty large amount of money on him neither being protected nor claimed, but I think it'll be moot anyway. He's out of options and the Red Sox aren't going to dump one of Wong/McGuire to carry him on the major league roster next year, so any team that really wants him just has to wait until he's DFAd.
I think the issue is more complicated than you are presenting it to be. The Sox have two catcher in AAA in Hernandez and Scott - one of who is reportedly a good defender and the other who is not - both of who are mashing. Scott's strengths have been covered (he's been a low batting average, high BB rate, low K rate guy with some pop before going absolutely nuts in AAA), while Hernandez's batting line this year (.259/.353/.487) is deceptively mediocre. Note first of all the astronomical change in BB rate and K rate over last year, and then note the BABIP. He is managing an OPS over .800 while batting only .257 on balls in play!

68936

This, to my mind, is a guy who appears to have made a leap in the way he approaches his plate appearances and has the worst luck (assuming it's not luck and an artifact of his change in plate pproach) of his minor league career on balls in play. If you adjust his BABIP to his career norms, or even just to .300, you've got a guy who's hitting .300/.400/.540 at AAA at the only position where the Red Sox need hitting.

While I agree that it's great that McGuire and Wong are cost-controlled, if the rumors are true and Hernandez's catching is much improved, you absolutely can contemplate using one of McGuire and Wong as trade bait, because Wong is a bad hitter (fine for his position) and McGuire is terrible and possibly surviving only on smoke and mirrors (has had good BABIPs throughout his career despite miserable exit velocities and hard hit percentages). Wong and McGuire both offer good things on defense (running game, framing) respectively, but neither of them can really hit.

I maintain the Sox could potentially improve their lineup majorly by slotting one or either of these guys in at catcher over McGuire or Wong. Whether the risk of defensive loss (or the risk the guys flame out, although I'd argue they couldn't be worse than McGuire) would be too much to justify the change is another question, one I don't feel qualified to answer.
 

Fishy1

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One other thing I'd note is that Mcguire's pop-time went from 50th percentile last year to 24th percentile, while his framing is still excellent. He's caught 4 people stealing against 28 attempts, a career-worst mark. Scott has caught 1 guy against 16 attempts, Ronaldo has caught 10 against 42 attempts.

2023:

69002
2022:
69001
 

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JM3

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simplicio

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In a coaching role or something? I don't see the interest from a gameplay perspective unless they're trading McGuire.
 

chawson

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In a coaching role or something? I don't see the interest from a gameplay perspective unless they're trading McGuire.
They could be trading Wong. He's got some value with five years of control left, and Teel is possibly up by the end of the year to handle the bulk.
 

simplicio

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They could, but a Maldonado/McGuire tandem for a year sounds completely unbearable.
 

moondog80

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Maldonado has failed to hit .200 in each of the last 3 years. He does have some pop though -- 12, 15, and 15 HR.
 

JM3

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If Maldonado is interested in an MiLB deal, which he might be, he'd be a pretty much ideal addition. He's 37 & coming off a -1.2 fWAR season, but he has a ton of experience helping to maximize pitching staffs (he won a Gold Glove in 2017 & has caught 3 no-hitters) & would be a really nice resource in Worcester for the pitchers as well the other catchers. The guys on the roster who project to be starting the next year in Worcester are like Stephen Scott & Elih Marrero. So Maldonado could be the break the glass in case of emergency guy if Wong or McGuire went down. & help mentor guys like Hickey & Teel once they're promoted to AAA if he's still there.

Maldonado also played on Alex Cora's Puerto Rican World Baseball Classic team (& caught a perfect game which didn't count as a perfect game against Israel because they Mercy Ruled them), so there's that connection, & it might serve as a bridge toward Maldonado's post-playing career if he wants to get into coaching. If they plan on having Maldonado be one of their top 2 catchers next season, that's a bit more problematic, depending on how the entire puzzle looks.
 

chawson

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I would like to note that Gary Sánchez had better marks than Connor Wong in pitch blocking, pitch framing, pop time, exchange time, and arm strength (mph in throws to 2B) last year, and has a career .882 OPS at Fenway. He just put up the best contact rate of his career.

I like Wong but with Teel’s proximity to the big leagues it could be a good time to explore his market and value to some money-stretched team. Garver's been mentioned here and I like him too, but since he apparently can still catch — or perhaps suddenly can — I kinda like the idea of giving Gary a 2-year-deal as a C/DH bridge to the Teel era.
 

JM3

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No one is signing a minor league deal in early December, though.
Lots of players already have, including at least 3 by the Red Sox. I agree that a guy who has been in the MLB for the last 13 years is unlikely to at this stage, but if for whatever reason he likes this opportunity (the things I mentioned before or early opt-out dates or higher guarantee for MLB time), & thinks he's not getting a MLB contract, it could happen fairly soon. Or it could just be something they leave on the table, which is still "expressing interest" which is all the report is.
 

YTF

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Some people were speculating this was a goodbye post from Reese today, but who knows? Seems like a bit of a stretch outside the concurrent Maldonado reporting.

View: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0hVMXeuQVM/?igshid=NTc4MTIwNjQ2YQ==
It does seem a bit random if not. Maldonado will be 38 in August and I must say that I was surprised to see that he played in 116 games last season, all at the catcher's position and as a starter in each of them. That's not me saying that I'm hoping that he's joining the team, just saying that I'm surprised to see him catching so many innings at that age.
 

Rich Garces Belly

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I would like to note that Gary Sánchez had better marks than Connor Wong in pitch blocking, pitch framing, pop time, exchange time, and arm strength (mph in throws to 2B) last year, and has a career .882 OPS at Fenway. He just put up the best contact rate of his career.

I like Wong but with Teel’s proximity to the big leagues it could be a good time to explore his market and value to some money-stretched team. Garver's been mentioned here and I like him too, but since he apparently can still catch — or perhaps suddenly can — I kinda like the idea of giving Gary a 2-year-deal as a C/DH bridge to the Teel era.
Originally I was reading that there was mutual interest between Sanchez and the Padres in reuniting but it seems stagnant. Additionally, Snell has credited Sanchez with makinghim more aggressive and getting out of jams better this past season.

Sanchez doesn’t get on base much or hit for average but with his improved catching ability and undeniable power I think he would be a great signing. With a weak catcher free agency market the Red Sox could potentially get something valuable for Wong.
 

chawson

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Roberto Perez already knows the Andrew Bailey pitching academy, so assuming it’s an mL deal, he’s a great AAA/third catcher if the plan is to rebuild Criswell, Walter, Murphy, and whoever else we option to Worcester. (Maybe they option Houck in the early going?)