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At the beginning of this offseason, there were many questions that the Red Sox and GM Ben Cherington needed to address. One of them was probably not about the catching situation though. The team carried two catchers into the end of the 2012 season and they were Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway. But the Red Sox have made two huge moves to get players who can catch as well, adding David Ross and Mike Napoli.
In my opinion, the starting catcher should still be Salty next season because he knows this ballclub. Saltalamacchia had played a majority of the games at catcher last season and it is his spot to lose. Bringing in a new catcher to the team would not be a very wise decision.
The numbers that Saltalamacchia put up last year speak for themselves. He had a career year batting-wise, with 25 home runs and 59 RBI’s, which are both career-highs. He also caught 104 of the total games in the 2012 season. Last year he threw out 18 base-runners, and the year before he threw out a career-high 37 runners.
Despite the other signings and moves that the Red Sox have made, Saltalamacchia is still the clear-cut winner in this case. According to ESPN.com, even he thinks so, as he stated that, “I’ve gotten to (Napoli) talk to him a few times, played against him, I’m excited for the chance to work with him and learn from him.”
Since the Sox did bring in the other catchers in the off-season, they definitely have some options. Lavarnway is still a young catcher at only 25 years of age. He caught in 46 games last season but did not just put up impressive enough numbers to become the starter over Saltalamacchia. With next season being his first full season, it does not make sense the have Lavarnway start.
David Ross would be the next likely starter in the mix, but I think he will become Satlalamacchia’s back up. Ross can still produce numbers even after ending his 10th season last year. He is a career .238 hitter who had 9 home runs, and 23 runs batted in last year. His stats are about as impressive as Saltalamacchia’s have been and definitely can be a mentor to the still young Saltalamacchia.
Finally, for the newest addition to the team. Mike Napoli signed with the Red Sox on a 3-year, $39 million contract. Napoli has made most of his career starts at the catcher position, but is most likely going to be making starts at first base for the Sox this season. Napoli is a career .259 hitter and a bat like that needs to be in the line-up full time, especially considering the big contract he earned.
With the starting first baseman spot still slightly up in the air, it looks like Napoli will start a majority of games there, and still be available to catch.