Jorge Alfaro has yet to report to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers. The veteran catcher is currently dealing with visa issues, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) on Friday.
Alfaro was signed to a minor-league contract last month. The deal came with an invite to spring training as well as a $2 million salary if the 29-year-old backstop cracks Boston’s big-league roster this season.
“He’s not here yet,” Cora said at JetBlue Park. “But we found a few things defensively that we can help him to get better. He has a cannon and obviously, he’s a good athlete. He hits the ball hard.”
Last season with the Padres, Alfaro batted .246/.285/.383 with 14 doubles, seven home runs, 40 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, 11 walks, and 98 strikeouts over 274 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter also averaged 89.4 mph on the balls he put in play while ranking in the 97th percentile of all major-leaguers in max exit velocity (115.2 mph), per Baseball Savant.
Alfaro spent his winter in the Dominican Republic playing for the Tigres del Licey. He appeared in just six regular season LIDOM games for Licey but turned it up a notch afterwards by posting a 1.105 OPS in the round-robin portion of the playoffs and hitting .421 (8-for-19) with two home runs in the championship series that he was named MVP of.
“He had a great winter down there in the Dominican Republic,” said Cora. “Just hoping that he gets here.”
Alfaro is now slated to play for his native Colombia in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. As such, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound backstop will have a limited amount of time to work with Jason Varitek and other members of the Red Sox coaching staff before Opening Day arrives next month.
“He’s going to the tournament, too,” Cora said in reference to the WBC. “It’s kind of like a small window for him to work with Jason, which is very important. But he should be OK.”
Once he does arrive at the Fenway South complex, Alfaro figures to compete with Connor Wong — who also hits from the right side of the plate — for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster as the No. 2 catcher behind the left-handed hitting Reese McGuire. For what it’s worth, Alfaro and McGuire are both out of minor-league options while Wong has one remaining.
If Alfaro fails to break camp with the Red Sox and accepts his assignment to Triple-A Worcester, he will have the ability to opt out of his deal and return to free agency if he is not called up by June 1 or July 1 at the latest.
(Picture of Jorge Alfaro: Denis Poroy/Getty Images)