Ryan Lavarnway was once the next great Red Sox catcher. The only problem is that it turns out that not every player who's hyped by that hype machine turns out as good as they say. After a couple of years of disappointment, this offseason, Lavarnway has bounced on waivers from team to team. On Tuesday afternoon, he bounced to the Orioles. Maybe he will stick around for a while, or maybe he will bounce from here to somewhere else.
In the last week or so, the notion that Matt Wieters may not be ready in time for Opening Day has gotten some more press. The Orioles have supposedly always been looking for a catcher this offseason, which is probably why. Is Lavarnway the catcher they were looking for? Hopefully they don't need him for long, in any case.
What was likely Lavarnway's best game in the big leagues came in Camden Yards back in 2011, the season in which he made his MLB debut for Boston. Lavarnway hit two home runs and drove in four runs in the lone game that the Red Sox won in the Curse of the Andino series.
Since debuting, Lavarnway has played in a total of 97 games at the big league level over the past four seasons, during which time he has batted .201/.249/.315. That's a good way to bounce from Boston to Los Angeles to Chicago to Baltimore on the waiver wire in the span of a month.
The Orioles released outfielder Quintin Berry to make room for Lavarnway on the 40-man roster. If you forgot that Berry was on the 40-man roster, I won't hold it against you. The only reason his presence was at all memorable is if you knew the tidbit that Berry is a childhood friend of Adam Jones.
If Lavarnway hits that poorly, why would they want him? The answer probably lies in his stat line from Triple-A Pawtucket this season: .283/.389/.370. What's that called when the player's on-base percentage is more than 100 points above their batting average? Oh yeah, a guy who knows how to take a walk. Is he suddenly going to light the world on fire in Baltimore? No, but maybe they think he can be capable for as long as they need him to be.
The waiver claim in standard Duquettian terms, as related to MASN's Roch Kubatko: "Lavarnway has good athletic ability and has been a consistent hitter in the minors. He give us another catcher and right-handed hitter to consider this spring." If he even makes it to spring!
Lavarnway makes the fifth catcher on the 40-man roster. That might be a little overkill, or perhaps a sign for Steve Clevenger to rent, not buy.