The Red Sox really might be in on yet another trade for a catcher
November 28th, 2022
The Boston Red Sox made a significant shakeup at catcher during the 2022 season with a pair of trades. Now, they’ve left themselves with few better options at the position other than … yet another trade.
That’s at least based on the latest reporting on the MLB hot stove from Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic. He mentioned the Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and St. Louis Cardinals as two teams with an “obvious need” at catcher. The latter is because of Yadier Molina’s retirement. As for Boston? That’s due to being left with only Reese McGuire as a clear major-league-ready option.
So, unless 26-year-old prospect Connor Wong makes a big jump in 2023, the Red Sox likely have to make a move for a catcher in the off-season, even if it’s for a backup. But ideally, McGuire is the backup to a catcher who can hit a little bit. But as Rosenthal illustrated at The Athletic, offensive catchers are increasingly rare these days, particularly ones who are available. So the quickest avenue for a needy team to find one is via trade.
Rosenthal mentions the Oakland Athletics’ Sean Murphy as a prime trade candidate at catcher. He also names all three catchers on the Toronto Blue Jays: Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen, and Gabriel Moreno. A trade between Boston and Toronto shouldn’t be ruled out entirely, since the Sox notably acquired future World Series MVP Steve Pearce from the Jays in 2018. That was the Dave Dombrowski era, but Chaim Bloom hasn’t exactly shied away from trades within the AL East, himself.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 21: Sean Murphy #12 of the Oakland Athletics hits an RBI double in the bottom of the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at RingCentral Coliseum on August 21, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Murphy was one of only five catchers in the majors to even get enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title (3.1 per game). He also led all catchers in games (148) and at-bats (537), a true starter in a league with not many of them. Oh, and he hit 18 home runs, tied for seventh at the position, and his 66 RBIs tied him for fourth.
That being said, a lot of teams have shown interest in Murphy on the trade market or otherwise have a need, according to Rosenthal. That includes the Tampa Bay Rays, who are in a similar situation as Boston with thinning depth. Rosenthal also mentions the Yankees, Guardians, and Padres as teams who could be in on Murphy.
A trade involving a catcher would mark the third such deal in four months, if it were to take place in December. The Red Sox both traded Christian Vazquez to the Astros and acquired McGuire from the White Sox on Aug. 1, just before the trade deadline.
If the Red Sox ultimately can’t swing a deal for any of the names dropped in Rosenthal’s report, they’d still have options in free agency, albeit not sure things. Are they about to convince Vazquez to come back after they traded him to the Astros, who won their second World Series since 2017 with him in tow, and with Xander Bogaerts’ future hanging in the balance? Other free-agent catchers to know include Willson Contreras (who received a qualifying offer from the Cubs), Gary Sanchez, and Jorge Alfaro.
Another Surprise Team In On Bogaerts?
BOSTON, MA – MAY 04: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels Fenway Park on May 4, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
The Padres are a “surprise team” in the shortstop arms race, according to Jon Heyman, who reports that they “like” Xander Bogaerts. It’s just another team for the Red Sox to worry about if they still want to re-sign Bogaerts. The longer his free agency goes on, the better the chances of a return to Boston may feel.
But it’s likely that another big-name free-agent shortstop like Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson will be the one who signs first and sets the market. At that point, we’ll have more clarity on how close the Red Sox could be to a competitive offer for Bogaerts to stay. For now, it feels more like their sights are set on third baseman Rafael Devers as their next major contract.
If Bogaerts leaves the Red Sox as a free agent, their most likely move on the middle infield is to move Trevor Story to shortstop and acquire a second baseman.
Kluber In Play?
ST PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 10: Corey Kluber #28 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Tropicana Field on April 10, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Corey Kluber has even lived in Boston before, but has still never pitched for the Red Sox. Based on his recent conversation with Chris Cotillo of MassLive, the door’s still open, and was never closed in the first place.
Kluber confirmed to Cotillo that the Red Sox “were definitely one of the teams that we talked with the last couple years” in his free agency periods. He also dismissed any problems with the team by clarifying that it “just didn’t get across the finish line.” On top of that, Kluber called Boston an “awesome city” and “great place.”
With that in mind, Kluber should still be on the table as a potential signing for the Red Sox. He may not be the same pitcher he was during his prime years in Cleveland, but Kluber would come relatively cheaply with the upside of a resurrected veteran talent – the 2023 version of Michael Wacha. If the Sox want affordable experience in the mix for the rotation, Kluber would make sense.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.