Lavarnway came up as a catcher but bounced around last season. All of his 24 major-league innings last season came at first base. He’ll be bouncing again in 2015, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Monday: “He’ll catch some, play some at first, and right handed bat (off the bench).”
Friedman acknowledged the risk involved in the transaction. Lavarnway can’t be optioned to the minor leagues, just like Drew Butera, the man he replaced. The reward? “He at the very least adds some depth for us against left-handed pitchers,” Friedman said.
Maybe the what made Lavarnway most attractive is his defensive flexibility. Butera played parts of two games at first base in the minors and three in the majors. He also pitched three times. But for all intents and purposes, Drew Butera is a catcher.
Friedman prefers multi-position guys like Lavarnway.
“It helps Donnie quite a bit in-game,” Friedman said. “It allows you to effectively feel like you’re playing with more than a 25-man roster when you have that flexibility. It certainly helps. You have to have kind of a threshhold of caliber of player, but if that standard is met and that player can play multiple spots, it’s helpful.”
It’s something to keep in mind as the front office deliberates this winter.