While shopping the waiver wire this offseason, the Orioles have had significant interest in Lavarnway, placing at least one other claim on the right-handed hitter before landing him this week. This is the third time Lavarnway has been claimed on waivers this month.
"Lavarnway has good athletic ability and has been a consistent hitter in the minors,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Tuesday in a text message. “He gives the O’s another catcher and right-handed hitter to consider this spring.”
Lavarnway, 27, hit .283 with 10 doubles, three home runs and 20 RBIs in 62 games with Triple-A Pawtucket in the Boston Red Sox organization in 2014. Once one of the Red Sox's top prospects -- he was ranked as the 93rd-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com before the 2012 season -- Lavarnway has a .283 batting average in seven minor league seasons.
His best professional season came in 2011, when he hit .290 with 32 home runs and 93 RBIs in 116 games between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket.
But those numbers haven't translated to success in the major leagues, as Lavarnway has hit just .201 with five home runs and 34 RBIs in 97 major league games since he debuted in 2011. His defense behind the plate also has been in question at the major league level.
Lavarnway was 0-for-10 with the Red Sox in 2014. He was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 5, but they placed him on waivers and he was claimed again, this time by the Cubs on Friday.
Lavarnway becomes the fifth catcher on the Orioles' 40-man roster, and his addition makes re-signing veteran catcher Nick Hundley less likely.
The Orioles are interested in retaining Hundley, especially as veteran insurance with starter Matt Wieters returning from Tommy John surgery. Hundley is still unsigned, but he is believed to have opportunities with other teams in which he can receive more playing time.
To make room for Lavarnway on the 40-man roster, the Orioles released outfielder Quintin Berry.
Berry, 30, was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk on Sept. 2 and appeared in 10 games with the Orioles this past season, primarily as a pinch runner. He was 1-for-1 in stolen-base attempts and scored three runs. In 112 games for Norfolk in 2014, Berry batted .285 with 35 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.