Dodgers claim Boston catcher Ryan Lavarnway, designate Drew Butera

The Dodgers designated catcher Drew Butera for assignment Friday.
(Atsushi Tomura / Getty Images)

Best double-check those Dodgers’ catching plans that seemed semi-secure a couple of days ago when they offered salary arbitration to A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera.

On Friday the Dodgers claimed light-hitting catcher Ryan Lavarnway from the Red Sox and designated Butera for assignment. And they may yet make more catching moves.

In parts of four seasons for the Red Sox, the right-handed Lavarnway has hit just .201, with .249 on-base and .315 slugging percentages. In the minors he has a .283/.389/.370 slash line. This is not a move to get excited about.

The Dodgers had originally expressed interest in Lavarnway in 2011, when they traded for then-Red Sox minor league catcher Tim Federowicz, but Boston wanted to hang on to Lavarnway.

Lavarnway, 27, is from Burbank and went to El Camino High School in Woodland Hills, before heading to Yale. He was taken in the sixth round by the Red Sox in 2008. Like Butera and Federowicz, Lavarnway is out of options.


Butera, 31, served as the back-up catcher to Ellis all season but had a slash line of just .188/.267/.288 in 192 plate appearances. He was well-regarded behind the plate but had a rather alarming nine passed balls. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Lavarnway, meanwhile, has been generally considered poor defensively.

The Dodgers are exploring other catching possibilities and could yet add someone else to the major-league roster, so it might be best to write in Lavarnway’s name in as the backup catcher in pencil.

If the Dodgers do add someone to at least share catching duties with Ellis, they may have to turn around and designate Lavarnway. Moving him wouldn’t exactly be unheard of in the new Andrew Friedman regime. He claimed infielder Ryan Jackson from the Padres last month and three weeks later traded him to the Royals.

Lavarnway appeared in only nine games for the Red Sox last season, going hitless in 10 at-bats. He spent the rest of the season at triple-A Pawtucket, where nursing a strained left wrist, he played little catcher mostly first and some designated hitter. He went .283/.389/.370.