Boston Red Sox

Red Sox catcher outlook: Wong, McGuire bridging the gap to Teel

Boston is running it back at the catcher position as it awaits the promotion of its prized prospect.

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Boston Red Sox spring training workouts are set to begin when pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Fla. on Feb. 14. Full squad workouts begin on Feb. 19.

Ahead of spring training, we're assessing the Red Sox's situation at each position for the 2024 campaign. We'll break down the players expected to play the position for Boston in 2024, followed by a confidence grade. These positional outlooks will be updated as moves are made in the offseason.

In this installment of the series, we focus on the catcher position.

Connor Wong

While they wait for prized catching prospect Kyle Teel to develop, the Red Sox are content running it back with the tandem of Connor Wong and Reese McGuire behind the plate.

It isn't the most exciting plan, but Wong proved to be a solid big-league catcher in his first full season. The 27-year-old, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Mookie Betts trade in 2020, was among the top catchers in the league when it came to throwing out would-be base stealers. He ranked sixth in MLB with 15 runners caught stealing second base and sixth in catcher's caught stealing above average (five).

Connor Wong
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Connor Wong impressed defensively for the Red Sox in 2023.

Wong played in 126 games last season, including 20 consecutive starts at catcher during the summer. The Red Sox relied on him to carry the load behind the plate with McGuire missing time due to an oblique injury.

As impressive as he was defensively, he wasn't much of a difference-maker at the plate. Wong slashed .235/.288/.385 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. He struck out 134 times and had only 22 walks.

Passing on bat-first free-agent catchers like Mitch Garver and Tom Murphy shows the Red Sox are continuing to prioritize defense behind the plate. Wong will provide that until Teel -- touted as a stellar all-around backstop -- brings the best of both worlds to Boston's roster.

Reese McGuire

The Red Sox originally acquired McGuire from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for reliever Jake Diekman ahead of the 2022 trade deadline. The 28-year-old caught fire at the plate following the deal, hitting .337 with an .877 OPS in 32 games.

As expected, there was significant regression in 2023. In 72 games played as Wong's backup, McGuire hit .267 with a .668 OPS. He missed time during the campaign due to an oblique injury.

Reese McGuire
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Reese McGuire regressed at the plate last season after catching fire upon joining Boston in 2022.

McGuire is a decent No. 2 catcher who doesn't do anything exceptional at the plate or behind it. He's just about average at catching runners stealing (-1 catcher's CS above average in 2023), so he isn't necessarily a defensive liability. As long as he's healthy this time around, he should be a fine backup.

Catcher confidence grade: B-

Wong/McGuire is a boring but sensible duo to roll with until Teel is ready for The Show. It'll be interesting to see just how long that is given how quickly the Virginia product has risen through the minors. Teel started his first professional season in rookie ball and ended it at Double-A Portland, hitting .323 with a .945 OPS in nine games for the Sea Dogs.

If he picks up where he left off, we wouldn't be shocked to see Teel make his big-league debut as soon as Opening Day next year.

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