LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Friday shuffled the cards of their backup catching situation, claiming catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers fro the Red Sox. To make room on the 40-man roster, Drew Butera was designated for assignment.
Lavarnway, 27, was 0-for-10 in his brief time in the majors with Boston in 2014, all of nine games which included none at catcher. He missed 66 games after breaking the hamate bone on his left wrist. He was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Nov. 25 to make room for free agent signee Pablo Sandoval.
Lavarnway, who played his high school ball at El Camino Real in Woodland Hills, hit .283/.389/.370 with three home runs and 10 doubles in 62 games for Triple-A Pawtucket, though he only caught 15 games in Triple-A. He also played 31 games at first base and was designated hitter for 17 games.
In parts of four major league seasons, the right-handed Lavarnway has hit .201/.249/.315 with five home runs and 17 doubles in 97 games.
After hitting 34 home runs between Double-A Portland, Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox in 2011, Lavarnway has hit a total of 18 home runs in 1,114 plate appearances between the majors and minors in the last three years combined. Lavarnway has never been considered a good defensive catcher, and with his slipping offense he became expendable in Boston. Alex Speier of WEEI noted this a year ago:
For Lavarnway, too, there has been something of a vicious circle. For years, the improvement of his defense was the necessary prerequisite to his emergence as a valuable prospect. He focused his attention and physical training in no small degree on that aspect of the game.
But over the last two years, mindful that his offensive value has eroded steadily (as one of the slower players in the majors, the value of a single or walk for Lavarnway -- particularly with the bases empty -- is less than it might be for most other players), there have been some in the Red Sox organization (and, for that matter, scouts outside of it) who have wondered whether he's been consumed by his offense to the point of letting his relationship with pitchers suffer.
Lavarnway reunites with former Red Sox minor league teammate Tim Federowicz, with both in position to vie for the backup catcher spot on the Dodgers 25-man roster, though beacuse it is only Dec. 5, there is plenty of time for that competition to gain more members.
Having used options in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Lavarnway is out of options, as is Federowicz. Lavarnway has one year, 133 days of service time.
Butera, acquired at the July 31 trade deadline in 2013 from Minnesota, hit .186/.263/.282 in 65 games as a Dodgers, right in line with his .183/.239/.268 career line. He also wore No. 31, which happens to be the same number worn by a certain free agent left-hander, as I joked last night.
Have to assume the main hiccup in the Jon Lester negotiations with the Dodgers is convincing Drew Butera to switch uniform numbers— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) December 5, 2014
Also, for those asking, no Lavarnway was not Lester's personal catcher and this was not a precursor or even related to the team's pursuit of Lester. Lavarnway only caught 15 minor league games in 2014, and in his career has caught Lester eight times, the last time in 2012.