The Dodgers finally made a move on the catching front.
As you know, I have been clamoring for the Dodgers to upgrade their catching. I just can’t deal with another fruitless year offensively from the duo of A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera. Having to watch the far superior Yadier Molina defeat the Dodgers in the postseason for the second year in a row just gave me more reason to worry about the Dodgers catching depth.
The Dodgers claimed 27-year old Ryan Lavarnway from Boston. The Dodgers seem to like to acquire catchers from Boston. Tim Federowicz came from Boston’s farm system as well,
Lavarnway is a Southern California native and born in Burbank, CA. He graduated from El Camino Real in Woodland Hills before attending Yale University. In 2007, Lavarnway won the NCAA batting title with a .467 batting average and a .873 slugging percentage. The Red Sox drafted the catcher in the 6th round of the
Mar 18, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway (20) works out prior to the game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan made his MLB debut back in 2011, but he has only played in 97 Major League games since then. Last season, he mostly played in Triple-A Pawtucket where he hit .283/.389/.370 with 3 homeruns and 2o RBIs in 257 plate appearances. Defensively, Lavarnway put up solid caught stealing percentages over his minor league career and averaged 31% CS over 7 seasons. In 2014, Lavarnway played more first base (31 games) than behind the plate (15 games) for Pawtucket.
The Dodgers will most likely play Lavarnway mostly at catcher since they are thin at the position throughout the minor league system, and they have already lost two minor league catchers this offseason.
The Dodgers in turn designated catcher Drew Butera for assignment to make room for Lavarnway on the roster. Drew, who surprisingly has more fans than I thought, was less than impressive as the backup catcher for the Dodgers since being traded from the Twins in 2013. Amusingly, Butera had a career year at the plate in 2014. He hit a blistering .188/.267/.288 with 3 homeruns and 14 RBIs in 61 games.
While Butera was on the team because of his defense, it really wasn’t all that spectacular. His CS% was a good 32%, but he committed 9 passed balls as well.
Butera’s greatest achievement as a Dodger was his relief pitching. With a shaky bullpen for most of the season, the Dodgers were forced to use Butera out of the bullpen to all our amusement. The right-hander pitched 1 2/3 innings for the Dodgers out of the bullpen in 2 separate games. He allowed 2 runs including a homerun to give him a 10.80 ERA. He struck out 2 batters and walked none.
I’m very happy about this catching acquisition. With power potential, Lavarnway could add some offense from the catching corps next season for the Dodgers. Tim Federowicz and Lavarnway could be battling for a starting catching job come Spring Training. While the Drew Butera era was longer than I ever thought it would be, we will miss his tenacity out of the bullpen and his affectious smile.