A Washington Nationals scout was in Boston last night watching Red Sox catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach, according to Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe. The Nationals are rumored to be in the market for a backstop due to Wilson Ramos’s season-ending injury. The Red Sox may have a catcher to trade with top prospect Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings at Triple-A.
Without Ramos, the Nationals are left with a catching duo of Jesus Flores and Sandy Leon. Flores has compiled 702 at-bats and an OPS of .690 over his five seasons in the majors. Leon, a rookie, has a career minor league OPS of .660.
For this reason the Nationals, who currently own half a game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, are thought to be interested in acquiring a catcher. It would make sense for the Nationals to target the Red Sox as a potential trade partner if they like what Boston has to offer.
Due to Ryan Lavarnway’s presence in Triple-A, the Red Sox could potentially be willing to part with one of the catchers on their major league roster to help fill another area of need. Both players, Saltalamacchia and Shoppach, figure to interest the Nationals.
Saltalamacchia, a former top prospect, is 27 and has done alright since joining the Red Sox. This season Saltalamacchia has posted an OPS of .793 with 12 extra base hits and 15 RBIs over his 84 at-bats.
The Nationals could also be interested in Kelly Shoppach as a one-year fill in for Ramos until he recovers from his injury. Shoppach is regarded as a solid defensive catcher and has provided a little pop from the catcher’s position throughout his career.
Over his eight seasons in the majors, Shoppach has an OPS of .736 and a slugging percentage of .419. This season for the Red Sox, Shoppach has hit at a clip of .265/.368/.469 with six extra base hits over his 49 at-bats.
While the Nationals aren’t likely to trade relievers with Brad Lidge and Drew Storen on the disabled list, Washington does have a pair of veteran starters currently pitching in the minors. Chien-Ming Wang is finishing up his minor league rehab and John Lannan is still pitching for the Nationals Triple-A affiliate. Though the Nationals would rather trade Lannan, teams appear to be more interested in Wang.