The top priority for the Boston Red Sox right now should be acquiring/signing a catcher. In the process, they should steer clear of anyone who will demand a long-term contract.
That means avoiding Brian McCann, who could very well receive a five-year contract, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who could very well receive a four-year deal now that Carlos Ruiz has agreed to re-sign with the Phillies at three years, $26 million.
Boston’s best option might actually be to trade for Andover High graduate Ryan Hanigan, who the Reds appear to be shopping after they signed catcher Brayan Pena to back up Devin Mesoraco.
The Red Sox have been rumored to have interest in McCann, Saltalamacchia, Dioner Navarro and Ruiz (before he re-signed with Philadelphia).
But Hanigan seems like a better fit than all of them because he is a strong defender, can provide some offense (.359 career on-base percentage) and can be used as a stopgap until prospect Christian Vazquez is ready for the big leagues.
Why should the Red Sox sign McCann or Saltalamacchia to a contract of four or more years when they have three minor league catchers (Vazquez, Blake Swihart and even Jon Denney) all with high ceilings?
Hanigan could be that one-year stopgap to Vazquez. He is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
The catcher struggled offensively this past season, batting just .198 but he suffered through a sprained wrist and oblique injury.
The 33-year-old doesn’t hit for power, averaging just 23 extra-base hits over a 162-game average. That is 32 fewer extra-base hits than Saltalamacchia averages and 36 fewer than McCann averages.
But Hanigan’s .359 career on-base percentage is 49 points higher than Saltalamacchia’s and nine points better than McCann’s. And Hanigan is a much better defensive catcher than Saltalamacchia and has a better arm than the defensively-sound McCann.