Red Sox ‘in talks’ with Gold Glove-winning catcher Roberto Pérez, per report

The Red Sox are in talks with free agent catcher Roberto Perez, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Perez, 34, was limited to just 21 games with the Pirates last year after suffering a season-ending left hamstring injury in May that ultimately required surgery. The right-handed hitter batted .233/.333/.367 with two home runs and eight RBIs across 69 plate appearances before getting injured.

Prior to signing a one-year contract with Pittsburgh last winter, Perez spent the first eight years of his major-league career in Cleveland, where he established himself as one of the top defensive catchers in baseball by being named the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and winning back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2019 and 2020.

Offensive has never been Perez’s strong suit, as the native Puerto Rican is a lifetime .207/.298/.360 hitter with 57 doubles, four triples, 55 home runs, 192 RBIs, 165 runs scored, two stolen bases, 190 walks, and 521 strikeouts in 511 games (1,752 plate appearances). He did, however, enjoy a career year in 2019 by clubbing 24 homers in 119 games with Cleveland.

Digging deeper into the defensive numbers, Perez has thrown out 97 of 248 potential base stealers in his career. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder has accrued 79 Defensive Runs Saved in 4,052 1/3 innings behind the plate. He has also been among the game’s top pitch framers since Statcast first began tracking that data in 2015.

Injuries have limited Perez to just 65 games over the last two years, so there may be some questions surrounding his durability. That being said, Perez did appear in 10 games for the Indios de Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League earlier this winter, so he appears to be healthy heading into the spring.

Since the start of spring training is now less than a month away, Perez will likely have to settle for a minor-league deal. The Red Sox are not alone in their pursuit of Perez, either, as Cotillo reports that the veteran is “believed to have other suitors” on the open market.

As currently constructed, Reese McGuire and Connor Wong are the only two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster. Jorge Alfaro, who was signed to a minors pact earlier this month, is expected to compete with Wong for a spot on the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s No. 2 catcher. Caleb Hamilton and Ronaldo Hernandez, who were both outrighted off the 40-man roster, will also be at big-league camp as non-roster invites.

(Picture of Roberto Perez: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to minor-league deal with catcher Jorge Alfaro

The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with catcher Jorge Alfaro, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Alfaro, 29, spent the 2022 season with the Padres and batted .246/.285/.383 with 14 doubles, seven home runs, 40 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, 11 walks, and 98 strikeouts in 82 games (274 plate appearances) before being non-tendered in November. He also threw out five of 30 possible base stealers while splitting time behind the plate with Austin Nola and Luis Campusano.

A native of Colombia, Alfaro originally signed with the Rangers as a highly-touted international free agent in 2010. Five years later, he was dealt to the Phillies as part of a blockbuster trade that sent Cole Hamels from Philadelphia to Texas.

Alfaro broke in with the Phillies the following September and appeared in a total of 143 games over three seasons with the club before being involved in another significant trade. In February 2019, the Marlins acquired Alfaro and two other players from Philadelphia in exchange for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

In parts of three seasons with Miami, the right-handed hitting Alfaro slashed .252/.298/.386 with 25 home runs, 103 RBIs, and 78 runs scored across 253 total games (876 plate appearances). The Marlins traded Alfaro to the Padres for cash considerations following the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

So, for his big-league career, Alfaro is a lifetime .256/.305/.396 hitter with 67 doubles, four triples, 47 homers, 194 runs driven in, 150 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 70 walks, and 566 strikeouts in 478 games (1,658 plate appearances) between the Phillies, Marlins, and Padres. He has traditionally hit the ball hard (averaged an exit velocity of 89.4 mph last year) but he has done so while posting a career 34.1 percent strikeout rate and measly 4.2 percent walk rate.

Defensively, Alfaro has logged over 3,340 innings at catcher since debuting for Philadelphia in 2016. In that time frame, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound backstop has accrued negative-17 defensive runs saved and has graded poorly in terms of pitch framing. While his arm strength and pop time are well-regarded, his receiving abilities leave much to be desired.

Alfaro, who turns 30 in June, will receive a base salary of $2 million if he makes Boston’s big-league roster. He also has multiple opt-outs in his deal, meaning he can return to free agency if he is not called up by June 1 or July 1 at the latest, per Cotillo.

On paper, Alfaro provides the Red Sox with experienced catching depth. In reality, though, he should have a chance to compete with Reese McGuire and Connor Wong — who also hits from the right side of the plate — for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster once spring training begins next month.

As noted by Cotillo, Wong has minor-league options remaining and can therefore be moved freely between Triple-A Worcester and Boston this coming season. Alfaro, on the other hand, can no longer be optioned to the minor-leagues since he already has more than five years of major-league service time under his belt.

All things considered, the addition of Alfaro should make for an even more interesting spring training in Fort Myers. In the meantime, Alfaro has enjoyed a productive offseason playing for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League. He came into play Monday slashing .383/.471/.633 with two home runs and 19 RBI in 16 postseason games for the Tigres, who are now just two wins away from clinching the LIDOM title.

(Picture of Jorge Alfaro: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández heating up at the plate with Triple-A Worcester

It was a slow start to the season for Ronaldo Hernandez, but the Red Sox catching prospect has picked things up as of late for Triple-A Worcester.

In the WooSox’ most-recent series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in Allentown, Pa., Hernandez went a ridiculous 13-for-22 (.591) at the plate with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs, six runs scored, one walk, and two strikeouts over five games and 24 plate appearances.

Hernandez very well could have been named International League Player of the Week were it not for the efforts of Royals prospect Vinnie Pasquantino, who had quite the week himself for the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Regardless of that, Hernandez has seen his stock rise lately for good reason. After struggling to the tune of a .132/.132/.245 slash line (-9 wRC+) in April, the right-handed hitting 24-year-old comes into the final day of May batting a stout .309/.367/.491 (131 wRC+) with six extra-base hits, eight RBIs, eight runs scored, four walks, and 17 strikeouts across his last 15 games and 62 trips to the plate.

This is Hernandez’s first full season with Worcester after he was promoted there from Double-A Portland last September. One of four catchers on the WooSox’ active roster, the 6-foot-1, 247 pound backstop has logged 189 innings behind the plate thus far while throwing out five of the 28 base runners who have attempted to steal off him.

The Red Sox originally acquired Hernandez and fellow prospect Nick Sogard from the Rays last February in exchange for pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs. Since then, the native Colombian has been regarded by publications such as Baseball America as one of the top two catching prospects in Boston’s farm system alongside Connor Wong.

While Wong has appeared in eight games for the Sox over the last two seasons, Hernandez has not gotten that same opportunity. Hernandez spent one day on Boston’s major-league roster last month, but he did not get into a game and was quickly optioned back down to Worcester when Christian Vazquez returned from the COVID-19 related injured list.

As a member of the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, Hernandez can easily be shuttled between Boston and Worcester this season when the need arises. That being said, it definitely seems as though Hernandez is squarely behind Wong (also on the 40-man) as far as the big-league club’s catching depth is concerned.

Hernandez, who does not turn 25 until November, has just one minor-league option remaining. So, if he remains in the organization throughout the off-season and into the spring, he will need to make the Sox’ 2023 Opening Day roster or will otherwise lose his 40-man spot since he will then be out of options.

With that, the 2022 season obviously holds some significance for Hernandez, who is represented by CAA Sports. On top of that, both Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki can become free-agents at the end of the year.

In short, Hernandez has but a few months to show he has what it takes to stick in the major-leagues. Offense has always been his calling card, so he will need to continue to hone his skills as a defender if he intends to stay behind the plate for the long haul.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add veteran catcher Jett Bandy to spring training roster

The Red Sox have added catcher Jett Bandy to their 2021 spring training roster as a non-roster invitee, the team announced Monday morning.

Bandy, 31 in March, spent the entirety of the 2020 season in Boston’s 60-man player pool, though he never saw any major-league action and was instead limited to taxi squad duties.

The Sox originally signed the California native to a minor-league contract in December 2019, likely with the idea that he would serve as upper-minors catching depth with Triple-A Pawtucket alongside Juan Centeno.

That vision never came to fruition, though, as the 2020 minor-league season was eventually cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bandy did however make the cut for Boston’s 60-man player pool, which resulted in him spending the year at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket when he was not part of the aforementioned taxi squad.

Prior to signing with the Red Sox, the veteran backstop had spent parts of four big-league seasons with the Angels and Brewers from 2015-2018.

Over that span in which he appeared in 156 total games and accrued 492 plate appearances, Bandy slashed .218/.282/.365 to go along with 16 home runs and 45 RBI. He also threw out 31 of the 98 base runners (32%) who attempted to steal against him.

With the addition of Bandy, Boston now has nine catchers at big-league camp not named Kevin Plawecki, who is still on the team’s COVID-19 related injured list.

The addition of Bandy also increases the Sox’ spring training roster to 72 players (excluding Plawecki). Teams this spring are not allowed to carry more than 75 players at any given time.

Taking that into consideration, the Red Sox will likely need to do a little bit of roster shuffling once Plawecki is ready to come back and once the Marwin Gonzalez signing is made official. So stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Jett Bandy: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)