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)