Red Sox roster analysis: Catcher still an area of ​​need even with Reese McGuire, Connor Wong in house

With the World Series beginning this week, it’s time to break down each part of the Red Sox’ roster entering an extremely busy winter for the club. Next up, a look at Boston’s catchers:


After entering each of the last three seasons with the tandem of Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki behind the plate, the Red Sox found themselves starting again at catcher late in the season. Vázquez was traded to Houston at the trade deadline and Plawecki was designated for assignment late in the season; Reese McGuire was acquired from the White Sox and Connor Wong was called up from Triple-A Worcester.

Entering 2023, McGuire and Wong are the top catching options on the roster. And they earned that distinction, too. McGuire, a former first-round pick who had never hit much in the majors, ran with his new opportunity, hitting .337 with an .877 OPS in 36 games after the trade. Wong had a great offensive season (15 homers, .838 OPS) at Triple-A Worcester and showed flashes once he was called up to the majors in September.

In McGuire (27, three years away from free agency) and Wong (26, was a rookie), the Red Sox have two young, cheap and controllable options behind the plate. While that’s a good place to start, neither player has ever proven himself a No. 1 catcher in the majors before. But McGuire’s Sox debut was very encouraging and Wong is a player the club has liked since before he was acquired in the blockbuster that sent Mookie Betts to Los Angeles in 2020. McGuire and/or Wong should be big factors in the catching picture next spring.


The Red Sox enter the winter with holes across their roster and a lot of money to spend. The emergence of McGuire and Wong led some to believe, at the end of the season, that the club would be comfortable going into next year with that tandem. That’s still possible, but it seems more likely, based on comments from chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom earlier this month, that the Red Sox will add catching help.

“This is one of the areas I fully expect that we’re going to explore additions,” Bloom said during the Red Sox’s season-ending press conference. “It’s nice to know that we have two guys who are familiar with how we do things, that showed a lot of good things. But we owe it to ourselves and everybody who cares about this team to look to get better and catcher is certainly not going to be an exception to that.”

Bloom did not expressly say that the Red Sox will add a catcher but he sure made it seem like a priority. There are plenty of options if he looks outside the organization.

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Vázquez will be a free agent and there appears to be mutual interest in a reunion at the right price. If Vázquez is willing to sign a one-year deal, a one-year deal with an option or a two-year deal at the right price, he could very well be back in a Red Sox uniform after a couple months with the Astros. Platooning Vázquez with the left-handed McGuire and using Wong as a third option is a possibility.

Vázquez isn’t the only well-known catcher who will hit the open market. Longtime Cub Willson Contreras is the top free agent option but probably a little too rich for Boston’s blood. Secondary options beyond Vázquez include Mike Zunino, Omar Narváez, Gary Sánchez, Tucker Barnhart and Roberto Pérez. The trade market is headlined by Oakland star Sean Murphy, who is under contract through 2025. The A’s are going to ask for a lot for Murphy just like they did in July, when the Red Sox sniffed around on a potential deal.


Behind McGuire and Wong, the Red Sox have two other backstops on the 40-man roster in Ronaldo Hernández and Caleb Hamilton. Hernández, who spent a few days with the big league team but never got into a game, was red hot down the stretch for Worcester and finished with a .261 average, 17 homers and a .749 OPS. Hamilton is an offense-first option who was claimed off waivers from Minnesota earlier in the month and can also play other positions.

Further down the depth chart in the lower levels of the minors are Kole Cottam and prospects Stephen Scott and Nathan Hickey.


The Red Sox could do worse than going into 2023 with the McGuire/Wong duo behind the plate. But based on Bloom’s comments, it seems like they will pursue other options. The Vázquez thing appears real, although when players hit the open market, it usually comes down to who will pay the most. Because the Sox do have respectable internal options, there’s a chance they won’t stretch their limits to beat the competition for Vázquez. On the flip side, his familiarity with the pitching staff and coaches might make Vázquez more valuable to the Red Sox than any other team.

Zunino and Murphy are two catchers who would make a lot of sense as well. Zunino likely has to sign a one-year prove-it deal after missing most of 2022 with injury and Bloom knows him from Tampa Bay. A Murphy deal would require a massive prospect haul, which would seem to go against Bloom’s MO But at some point, he is going to have to make a move for a player like that and Murphy definitely intrigues thee Red Sox.

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