CINCINNATI — From the outside, it surely looks ridiculous that a number of Red Sox players were upset when Kevin Plawecki, a third-string catcher with a .574 OPS, was designated for assignment on Friday night.
The Sox are a last-place team and they dumped a player they didn’t intend to bring back next season. Move along.
But Plawecki had been a member of the team for three eventful seasons. He was not just some random backup.
He was there when the 2020 season suddenly came to a halt in spring training and everybody was told to go home because of the pandemic.
Plawecki was there when the players were dressing in suites at Fenway Park later that year to avoid catching a virus that put teammate Eduardo Rodriguez in the hospital.
Plawecki was there for the emotional team meeting in a makeshift clubhouse in Buffalo when the Sox decided to boycott a game against the Blue Jays to add their voices to the national discourse about racism.
He then started 45 games last season and four more in the playoffs for a team that was two wins shy of going to the World Series.
Plawecki was Nate Eovaldi’s personal catcher last season and added Michael Wacha to his portfolio this year.
Through it all, Plawecki was a respected figure in the clubhouse, somebody who knew when to lighten the mood and when it was time to get down to business.
When game planning coordinator Jason Varitek was looking for a way to improve the grim atmosphere in 2020, he worked with Plawecki and they came up with the silly laundry cart ride after a home run.
In short, Plawecki was a player who meant something to his teammates in ways that can’t be judged by statistics.
That didn’t make him immune from being dropped off the roster. But it should have earned Plawecki a better fate than the news leaking out on Twitter just before midnight after a victory against the Rangers.
“It was kind of cold the way they did it,” one Sox player said before Tuesday’s game against the Reds. “That’s all I’ll say.”
Another said the Sox are free to run their team the way they see fit.
“Some teams are like that, some aren’t,” he said. “I don’t think they owe us anything. It’s a business.”
A third was on the fence.
“I didn’t like it,” he said. “They could have given some of us who have been here for a while a heads up. Some guys didn’t know about it until they got home.
“But that’s how baseball works sometimes. We can’t control that.”
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told the Boston Herald that he knew the decision wouldn’t go over well in the clubhouse. So why not get ahead of it and tell a few players what his thinking was? They would have understood.
Why not gather the increasingly few reporters who cover the team and explain the decision instead of letting it leak out? What could have been a one-day story turned into a multi-day drama.
A general manager once told me his position was akin to being a farmer. You can’t get too friendly with the chickens because eventually they’re going in a pot.
But there are times you need to speak up rather than ruffle some feathers. The chicken metaphors will stop here, promise.
This goes back to April when the low-ball contract offer made to Xander Bogaerts started the season on a poor note.
Compare that to the Yankees announcing the exact details of the huge proposal they made to Aaron Judge and saying they were looking forward to talks progressing.
Or the mystifying way the trade deadline was handled. There are Sox players still upset about that.
In the end, this is not about Plawecki. He’s reportedly close to signing with Texas and will get every penny he’s owed. He’ll be fine.
It’s about how the Sox want to run their team.