Trade interest in Kelly Shoppach is nothing new. He's a free agent at season's end, inexpensive, and hitting .261/.343/.513 in his 42 games and 136 plate appearances. The rest of the league is also aware that Ryan Lavarnway is sitting in Pawtucket, and in turn that means the Red Sox might be willing to move Shoppach.
Trade interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on the other hand, is a bit new, as it's assumed that other teams would want to acquire him, but just as understood that Boston would be likely to hang on to him. He's in his second year of arbitration, giving the Red Sox one more season with him, and another year to negotiate a long-term extension should they decide that's the case. If they wanted to deal him, they could always wait until the off-season as well, after Lavarnway has had a full year at Pawtucket to catch often, and Boston is no longer in the midst of a race for a playoff spot.
Sean McAdam says that, in addition to the Brewers and Nationals looking into Shoppach, that there has been "some" interest in acquiring Salty. Jim Bowden says that Saltalamacchia might be "the biggest name" moved by the Red Sox on deadline Tuesday, in an attempt to get younger.
That statement just comes off.. strange. Saltalamacchia is 27 years old, Lavarnway 24. Catchers tend to take longer to develop into capable and useful pieces, too -- the first year that Jason Varitek started full-time for Boston was in 1999, when he was 27 years old. Not to compare the two directly, but dealing Saltalamacchia when he's all of 27, still under contract for 2013 before you really know what Lavarnway is capable of in the majors, and then citing the primary reason as an attempt to get younger just rings kind of false.
Selling high on Saltalamacchia, if one assumes this is as good as it will ever get -- an above-average catcher who makes up for a lack of singles and walks with loads of power -- makes far more sense, in terms of the why. But, as said above, without knowing just what Lavarnway is going to do, either as a hitter or while trying to catch the likes of pitchers who will bury big-league offerings in the dirt, offerings he'll need to wrangle every night, it seems odd to send Salty packing. Especially when a Shoppach deal offers the path of least resistance, given his shortcomings, both contractual and skill-wise.
Lavarnway has also taken a bit of a step back in terms of his numbers at Triple-A Pawtucket this year, although, if you squint, there's been improvement. He's learned to deal with failure for the first time in his career, and has also gained some experience dealing with pitchers who don't want to give him anything to hit -- it's not as simple as just sitting there and taking pitches. Numbers aren't everything in the minors, and Lavarnway needed to do more in 2012 than just add to his numbers -- there were issues that needed resolving on defense, and for the most part, they seem to be. Does that mean he should take over as the starter, though? That's a question that might not need to be answered until another year, but we'll find out in a few hours if we need to know sooner.