According to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, the backstop Jorge Alfaro has agreed to a minor league contract with the Red Sox. Alfaro is a free agent. If he makes the MLB roster, he will receive a $2 million base salary. If he hasn’t been called up yet, he can opt out and go back to free agency on June 1 and July 1.
29-year-old Alfaro has appeared in all seven major league seasons. He was a top prospect in both the Rangers’ and Phillies’ farm systems. In 2015, he was traded from Texas to Philadelphia in exchange for Cole Hamels. In 2016, Alfaro made his professional debut for Philadelphia and would serve as their primary catcher for a portion of the subsequent two seasons. He struck out in 35.2% of his plate appearances as a Phillie, despite displaying the massive power and arm strength that had made him such a highly regarded minor league talent.
In exchange for J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia traded him and Sixto Sánchez to the division rival Marlins following the 2018 season. Miami had hoped that Alfaro would take over as their star catcher and be ready for the big leagues. For the next three seasons, Alfaro was their primary catcher. However, he continued to perform inconsistently, largely due to his issues with strikeouts.
In a minor trade during the offseason, the Padres took a shot at the player who was born in Colombia. After a busy Spring Training, Alfaro made the Opening Day roster and played in just over half of the team’s games. In 274 at-bats, he hit.246/.285/.383 with seven home runs and a strikeout rate of 35.8 percent. San Diego non-tendered him at the end of the season rather than keeping him for a $3.6 million arbitration salary.
Alfaro has hit.256,.305, and.396 in just 500 MLB games. He has made a lot of hard contact and has hit 47 home runs. However, his poor strikeout and walk profile has muted his on-base numbers, as he has fanned in over 34% of his trips while drawing free passes 4.2 percent of the time. Defensively, it has been somewhat similar to a boom or bust profile. Throughout his career, Alfaro has reduced 27.5 percent of attempted basestealers and has a top-tier throwing arm. However, according to Statcast and Baseball Prospectus’ metrics, he is also rated below average as a receiver overall and a framer of pitches.
For a Boston club with an uncertain catching mix, Alfaro represents a low-risk upside play, despite his overall body of work’s ups and downs. Currently, it appears that Reese McGuire and Connor Wong will form a loose platoon behind the dish. They are the only backstops on the Red Sox’s 40-man roster, and neither of them has been a regular MLB player for a long time. Alfaro is a seasoned depth option who can compete in Spring Training for a position or start the season at Triple-A Worcester as injury insurance.
Because Alfaro has served in the major leagues for more than five years, he cannot be optioned to the minor leagues. Boston will have to either keep him in the majors if he ever makes it onto the MLB roster or trade or waive him to other teams. Alfaro would meet the six-year service requirement and be eligible for free agency in the upcoming offseason if he spent 89 days on the MLB active roster or injured list next season. He would be eligible for arbitration for the 2024 season if he spent less than 88 days overall on the roster but was still on the 40-man roster at the conclusion of the season.