Alfaro’s previous stint in Miami (2019-2021) represents about half of his total major league experience. The Colombian catcher slashed .252/.298/.386 (83 wRC+) and produced 1.7 fWAR in those 253 games.
But most of his offensive success was concentrated in that first season. Also, the Marlins fell so far out of his favor with his defense that they acquired two young backstops (Alex Jackson and Payton Henry) at the 2021 trade deadline and primarily used “El Oso” in left field down the stretch. The Marlins made yet another catcher acquisition (Jacob Stallings) right before the MLB lockout, subsequently dumping Alfaro to the San Diego Padres for cash.
Alfaro initially bounced back with a vengeance in San Diego. He owned a 124 wRC+ through June of the 2022 campaign and even dealt the Marlins a devastating loss with a walk-off three-run home run against Cole Sulser.
However, his production cratered to a new low after that. He had to settle for a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox entering this year. In 18 MLB games for the Sox and Colorado Rockies in 2023, he has slashed a meager .146/.212/.292 (24 wRC+), striking out 28.8% of the time. Most of his summer has been spent in Triple-A.
Even when he’s locked in, the 30-year-old Alfaro demonstrates horrific plate discipline. He has chased nearly half of all pitches outside the strike zone since debuting in 2016, per FanGraphs. That directly contributes to his obscenely high 34.0% career strikeout rate.
Nick Fortes and Jacob Stallings have been an underwhelming catching tandem for the Marlins this season. Alfaro brings great raw power and arm strength that they lack, and he has familiarity with several of the club’s active pitchers (especially Sandy Alcantara and Braxton Garrett).
That being said, I don’t foresee Alfaro replacing either of them barring injury. If he excels with Triple-A Jacksonville over the next few weeks, he could build a case to be a September call-up. The struggles of Fortes and Stallings have been especially pronounced against right-handed pitching, so perhaps Alfaro could pinch-hit in select late-game scenarios, or at least take over behind the plate after somebody else on the team pinch-hits. He’d also have usefulness as a pinch-runner for Stallings and several of the other veterans on the Fish (82nd percentile in Sprint Speed among MLB qualifiers).
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the Jumbo Shrimp split up catcher and designated hitter reps between Alfaro, Austin Allen and Paul McIntosh. This news is a tough break for Allen in particular, who’s been hitting as well as Alfaro in recent months but without even receiving a cup of coffee in The Show at any point.
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