Not long after picking up Shane Peterson off waivers from the Oakland A’s, the Cubs snagged a catcher from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryan Lavarnway, who was taken by Theo Epstein and Co. with the 202nd overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, is a right-handed-hitting catcher who has seen action in 96 games with Boston over the last four seasons.
And lest you get too confused, yes, the Cubs did claim from the Dodgers a guy who’s only ever played for the Red Sox. Lavarnway was actually claimed by LA a couple weeks ago but was then designated for assignment in the midst of the transaction hurricane that is sweeping through Chavez Ravine.
These additions would have put the Cubs two spots over on the 40-man roster, so Logan Watkins and Donn Roach were DFA’ed to make room. So what are the Cubs getting, other than a guy whose name is sure to be butchered in perpetuity?
While he displayed a little pop early in his career, Lavarnway has not reached double-digit home run totals in any of the last three seasons. But that’s not really an integral part of a back-up catcher’s game, so the Cubs aren’t really looking for him to put the ball onto Waveland.
In 301 major league plate appearances, the 27-year-old has a .201/.249/.315 slash with 5.6% BB rate and 17.5% K rate. Okay, not much there either. Granted, those numbers were generated over the course of multiple stints, so it’s not as though he had the opportunity to establish any real continuity.
Likewise, the new Cub’s readily-available defensive stats were tracked over limited big league experience and can’t really be counted on. What does exist isn’t really pretty, so we may just need to give the guy the benefit of the doubt here.
Lavarnway’s MiLB stats tell a good story when it comes to OBP though, as he was able to exceed .375 in six different stops. While he’s not a guy who jumps out at you from a statistical standpoint, this front office has made no secrets that there are certain guys they really like and will try to re-acquire.
This move follows earlier reports that catcher David Ross had chosen to sign with the San Diego Padres, though that news proved premature. Claiming Lavarnway appears to be insurance against Ross’s final decision. If Ross indeed goes to SD, the Cubs have secured a back-up for Miguel Montero; if Ross comes to Chicago, the Cubs can DFA Lavarnway.
Either way, this under-the-radar pickup likely further signals the end of Welington Castillo’s days in Chicago.