The Red Sox are exploring all their options to find their catcher for 2014 which Ben Cherington says has included talks with multiple teams about potential trades, according to Jason Mastrodonato.
"We have interest in a small handful of free agents," Cherington said. "We've also talked to teams about trades. And we also think we're in a pretty strong position long-term with the young catching we have in the organization. And so we're in a position to be a little choosy, a little selective. If we could do something there, we'd love to. So we'll see what happens."
It might seem odd to take a stance of strength with the market having suddenly thinned out with Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz signing elsewhere, but there's more ways to look at it than just what's available on the market. The implication from Cherington is that, while the team might want some insurance for 2014, the presence of Daniel Butler, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart (really, in the opposite order) makes them feel they are not in desperate need of an answer behind the plate.
If that's the case, then the message is clear for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose return to Boston has been up in the air since free agency began: the Red Sox don't need a long-term answer, and aren't eager to commit to one for too many years.
In fact, it's worth noting that Cherington doesn't even frame the position as one that needs solving, simply one the could do with upgrading. "If we could do something there, we'd love to" implies that there's the possibility that they don't. Perhaps a sign that the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, John Buck, and Dioner Navarro aren't worth signing to play in front of Triple-A catchers Daniel Butler and Christian Vazquez.
Still, the real spark to this is mention of trades. There's nothing to help make the pall of a thin free agent market at a position of need than opening up the rest of the league's stock. Unfortunately, though, unless we're going to have a real bombshell with a player not expected to be on the market, chances are the return from any trade would be underwhelming as well.
The Red Sox were in on Ruiz and McCann, and Cherington says the speed at which they were snapped up wasn't a surprise. It's hard to feel like the market hasn't passed them by, but now that it has, that does kind of leave them in the position of strength Cherington mentions. When you're dealing with a bunch of flawed options, the upside of winding up with the best one over any of the others becomes pretty marginal. The Red Sox may not end up with much to show for it behind the plate, but it seems they will at least not make an imperfect situation that much worse by panicking.