This offseason was different than others for Kevin Plawecki.
The newly acquired Red Sox catcher played his first four seasons with the New York Mets, which included a World Series appearance in his first season in 2015. Five years later, he was with the Cleveland Indians, but on Dec. 2, 2019, the club made the decision to non-tender him after hitting just .222 in 174 plate appearances and posting a .629 OPS.
“It was a whirlwind,” Plawecki said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s something we haven’t dealt with before.”
The same day the Red Sox
traded Sandy León to the Cleveland Indians, the Indians parted ways with Plawecki, who emerged as a cheaper option for the Red Sox at backup catcher.
León earned $2.475 million last season and was due for a pay raise as he headed into his final year of arbitration.
On the other hand, Plawecki made $1.137 million last season with similar production to León, which led the Red Sox to target the 28-year-old native of Hinsdale, Ill., as their backup to primary catcher Christian Vázquez.
Just after the new year, the Sox made the acquisition of Plawecki official, signing him to a one-year, $900,000 deal.
“I’m super excited about being with the Red Sox and being with such a storied franchise and a team that’s competing year in and year out,” Plawecki said. “It’s a team that’s had a lot of success. I’m looking forward to contributing in whatever capacity that may be.”
While Vázquez had a breakout year at the plate last season, hitting a career-high .276 with 133 hits, 23 homers and 72 RBIs in 521 plate appearances, Plawecki has yet to put up that kind of production at the plate.
He’s a career .218 hitter with 17 homers and 92 RBIs, but that’s not what the Sox need, particularly with the potent lineup they already have assembled. What they do need, however, is a proven, reliable catcher who is capable of filling in and managing a major league pitching staff.
Plawecki appeared to fit the bill on that count, having caught Noah Syndergaard and two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom during his time with the Mets and Trevor Bauer during his time with the Indians last season.
“I’ve been blessed in my career to work with some of the greatest in the game,” Plawecki said. “I don’t know if that’s coincidence or what. I’ve been lucky enough to work with guys like that.
“I have so much fun doing it. I learned a lot from them. It’s a lot of fun being able to work with the best in the game, and now I’m going into Boston and am able to do the same thing.”
During the process, Plawecki said he spoke with Red Sox manager Alex Cora and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and expressed his concern that, as a huge family guy, the move not only had to make sense for him, but also for his wife, Terry.
For now, he’s spending his offseason in Arizona, working out as he gears up for the season. He doesn’t have much history with the Red Sox players, but he does know first base coach Tom Goodwin from his days as a coach with the Mets.
Plawecki is also familiar with Andrew Benintendi through a mutual friend and has spoken with the Red Sox outfielder through his transition.
Relationships are important to Plawecki and spring training will be the time he gets to forge most of them with his new teammates.
He’s looking forward to a fresh start in a new city that has the expectation of winning and believes he can be one of the contributors in the clubhouse.
“I’m a high-energy guy,” Plawecki said. “I love being around the guys. I love being in the clubhouse. At the end of the day, I just want to win. Whether I’m playing or not playing, I’m the ultimate competitor. I just have that mentality. You just have to have fun, and I think that translates into wins.”
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @byjulianmack.