Baseball Thinking

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Who is the Red Sox catcher of the future?

During the 2010 Red Sox spring training, there were open discussions regarding a contract extension for Victor Martinez. Many speculated that the catcher slash first baseman might sign an extension. When asked in February, Victor told the Boston Herald that he wants to remain in Boston. And his agent, Alan Nero of Octagon, told Gordon Edes of ESPN that even though he wants to stay, the Red Sox must pay him to stay. Martinez wants to be paid as a catcher. But do the Sox want him as a catcher?

As a catcher, Martinez has thrown out approximately 23% of base runners, below the average of 30%. In 2008, he did catch 37% of potential base stealers, but only 22 stolen bases were attempted against him, by far the lowest. In 2010, he is beginning the year in a 1 for 12 slump.

Defensively speaking, Martinez is not a very good catcher. The Sox feeling is that he might have one or two years left as a starting catcher and they are looking for him to become their 1B/DH. Very few teams will give a 32 year old catcher a large, multi-year contract. But Martinez wants to be paid as a catcher. Negotiations will become tense, for sure.

The Red Sox have no potential starting catchers in their minor league system. Dusty Brown is not the answer. They gave up the rights to George Kottaras and Milwaukee quickly (in minutes) plucked him off the waiver wire. Former farmhand Kelly Shoppach was recently traded to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Sox certainly could have used his services. Shoppach for Crisp – what a trade!

Moving forward, Martinez wants to catch and the Sox want him at first base. While negotiations will be honest, they will not be fruitful. Victor Martinez should sign with another team once his $7.7M contract expires at years’ end. Then who will the Sox sign to catch?

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