This news is a couple days old at this point, but I just straight-up missed it. On Tuesday, though, the Red So added a bit to their catching depth with a minor-league signing. As first reported by Chris Cotillo of Masslive, Boston agreed to a minor-league deal with catcher Juan Centeno.
Centeno is clearly not going to be the most exciting player acquired by the Red Sox this winter, but it is an interesting move. The Red Sox, as we’ve talked about, have three major-league catchers at the moment but that isn’t likely to last too long. It seems probable that one of those guys will be traded for non-tendered, and that hurts their depth at the position. Dan Butler and Oscar Hernandez, the main minor-league depth options last year, are both free agents right now. That leaves Austin Rei as the top depth option, which is not ideal. Butler and/or Hernandez can still be re-signed, but with Centeno they now have a catcher with some major-league experience who can be stashed in Pawtucket in case of injury.
As far as performance, Centeno has not been great, though that’s to be expected from a catcher who can be had on a minor-league deal. He’s bounced around the league, playing for the Mets, Brewers, Twins, Astros and Rangers, with the Mets being the only team for whom he played multiple seasons. He’s spent most of his career in Triple-A, with his most major-league time in one year coming in 2016 with the Twins when he got a 192 plate appearances. That was also his best year at the plate with an 89 OPS+, and he came back in a smaller sample in 2017 and posted a 73 OPS+ with the Astros. This past year with the Rangers was a step back, though, as he put up a .598 OPS in Triple-A and a 17 OPS+ in 38 plate appearances at the major-league level. In terms of defense, Centeno has graded out poorly in terms of framing and blocking by Baseball Prospectus’ defensive metrics, but he does have solid throwing numbers.