Ryan Lavarnway has been everywhere, man.
Ryan Lavarnway is a six-foot-four catcher out of Yale, where he racked up three seasons of Ivy League ball and hitting .384/.475/.725 in 120 games, with 33 homers and 122 RBI.
Now 32-years-old, Lavarnway has put a lot of miles on his cleats (seriously, check out his page on Baseball Cube). The Boston Red Sox picked him initially in the sixth round back in 2008, and he spent the first seven seasons of his professional career in their system. In 97 games with the parent club, he hit .201 with five homers and 34 RBI up through 2014.
Since then, Lavarnway has spent time in the systems of the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Oakland Athletics, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Indians, and the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in the majors with the O’s, the Braves, the A’s, and the Bucs.
Last season, Lavarnway split between the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders, the Louisville Bats, and the Columbus Clippers in the International League. In five games with the Reds, he was five-for-18 with a pair of long-balls.
Mostly known as a catcher, Lavarnway can also play first base in a pinch, as he has on seven occasions through his major league career. As a backstop, he’s collected a .989 career fielding percentage and has gunned down 17-of-85 runners trying to steal, a success rate of just 20 percent.
Prorated over a 1200 inning defensive season, Lavarnway has historically been worth minus-10 runs DRS, which translates loosely to -0.2 dWAR. Offensively, he’s been slightly better in the majors since leaving Boston, with a .233/.313/.403 line over 54 appearances.
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Lavarnway has also caught for Team Israel in international play, including their 2017 tournament run. He provides depth for a Marlins catching corps that starts with Jorge Alfaro and the largely unproven Chad Wallach. Below that, the two biggest names on the organizational depth chart are at least a season or two away, with Nick Fortes likely to play with the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League and Will Banfield likely with the Jupiter Hammerheads in the High-A Florida State League this coming season.
Along with Lavarnway, the Marlins re-invited B.J. Lopez and Santiago Chavez back to camp for the second year in a row. Brian Naverreto, late of the New York Yankees association, also joins the club for at least as long as Spring Training.
Look for Lavarnway to challenge Wallach for the backup position in the absence of proven backup Bryan Holaday, who has been a free agent looking for a team since mid-October.