The Dodgers claimed Ryan Lavarnway off waivers Friday, 10 days after the Boston Red Sox designated him for assignment to make room for Hanley Ramirez.
To make room for Lavarnway on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated catcher Drew Butera for assignment.
Lavarnway, 27, was a solid hitter at the Triple-A level the last four seasons. He owns a career .284/.377/.448 slash line for Pawtucket of the International League. In 97 major league games, all with Boston, Lavarnway has batted .201/.249/.315 with five home runs and 34 runs batted in.
A native of Burbank and a graduate of Woodland Hills El Camino, Lavarnway was chosen in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the Red Sox out of Yale University. Scouts Galen Carr and David Finley, whom the Dodgers recently hired away from the Red Sox, should be familiar with his work.
Coincidentally, Lavarnway and Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz were the top catchers (by games played) at Portland (ME), the Red Sox’s Double-A affiliate, before Federowicz was traded to the Dodgers in 2011.
Lavarnway is out of options, meaning the Dodgers cannot send him to the minors and still keep him on their 40-man roster. That was the case with Butera (and it’s also the case with Federowicz and A.J. Ellis), so the Dodgers did not gain any roster flexibility with today’s transaction.
Unlike Butera, Lavarnway has some experience playing first base. Lavarnway was drafted as a third baseman, then caught every game he played in the Red Sox organization until the 2014 season. At Pawtucket this year, Lavarnway appeared in 34 games at first base, 19 as a designated hitter and 15 as a catcher.
According to StatCorner.com, Lavarnway never rated well as a pitch framer; he’s lost a net of 26 strikes due to pitch-framing in his career. He’s only thrown out 10 of 63 attempted base stealers in his career (16 percent), which puts the position switch into perspective.
Butera appeared in 65 games as a Dodger after he was acquired from Minnesota for minor-league pitcher Miguel Sulbaran in July 2013. One was Josh Beckett‘s no-hitter in May 2014. Butera got into two games as a pitcher, including this one:
His hitting was less noteworthy. Butera’s 56 OPS+ as a Dodger was better than only 40 non-pitchers who have ever played 60 games in a Dodgers uniform. Unofficially, he led the 2014 club in “Backstage: Dodgers” appearances.
If Lavarnway can pitch and dance, call it a fair trade.