Veteran catcher Kevin Plawecki was batting just .217 when the Red Sox designated him for assignment on Friday. Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said of the roster move: “I was very disappointed to learn we let him go. With three weeks left in the season it was definitely frustrating.” Terrance Williams/Associated Press

The next weekend of baseball at Fenway Park will be played in 2023. The Red Sox played their final weekend home games of 2022 over the weekend, with just midweek series against the Orioles and Rays remaining in Boston.

Planning for next year is well under way. Team President and CEO Sam Kennedy said last week that the only advantage of being in last place in September was that it allows the franchise a chance to get a jump-start on the coming season. Ownership and management were deep into meetings throughout the past week.

In the clubhouse, tough decisions are already being made. On Friday, Boston designated catcher Kevin Plawecki for assignment, opting to go with recently acquired Reese McGuire and rookie Connor Wong as their catching tandem.

Plawecki was one of the most popular players in the Red Sox clubhouse. He was the one who brought the laundry cart celebration to the dugout. More importantly, he was the catcher many pitchers relied upon to guide them through games.

“That one was very difficult for me,” pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said when he joined me on the NESN “TC & Company Podcast” over the weekend. “K and I have lived together the past two years in spring training. He’s been one of the go-to catchers that I’ve had in my career.

“I was very disappointed to learn we let him go. With three weeks left in the season it was definitely frustrating.”


Looking at Plawecki’s numbers, it’s easy to understand why the Red Sox moved on. He only hit .217 with Boston this year, his lowest batting average of any season in which he played a minimum of 50 games. Yet his presence meant more than his offense. Like any strong catcher, he was the glue that kept a pitching staff together. It was Plawecki behind the plate to catch Eovaldi when the Red Sox began the postseason with a one-game, winner-take-all showdown with the Yankees last October.

Boston Manager Alex Cora admitted saying goodbye to Plawecki wasn’t easy.

“It’s a lot of emotions, but in the end, you grab a beer, sit with the players and we hang out a little bit. That’s what we did (Friday),” Cora said. “There was a big group hanging out with him which tells me a lot about this group.”

This is what happens when you are in last place in September. Tough decisions have to be made. Plawecki isn’t gone because he can’t help the team, he’s gone because the team needs to go in a younger direction. They need to see if Wong can be a part of the future plans.

That’s why Bobby Dalbec is back in Triple-A, where he hit two home runs with the WooSox on Saturday. It’s not just because he has struggled. It’s because they need to give Triston Casas a chance to acclimate to the big leagues before next season.

It’s why 27-year old Zack Kelly made his major league debut on Aug. 29, and why 30-year old Kaleb Ort is getting a chance to pitch for Boston after 39 appearances in Worcester.


“I’m talking to players and talking about the offseason and the plans,” Cora said on Sunday. “It’s uncomfortable in a sense because I live in the present, you know? My job today is trying to win that game.”

That’s the reality Cora and his team live in. They are trying to win as many games as they can, trying to do right by the more than 33,000 fans who came to the ballpark for every game of the homestand. Yet they are also trying to develop talent and put pieces in place to contend for a postseason berth next year.

“You’ve got to be realistic,” said Cora. “You know the future is bright. We’re going to be OK. Just keep going.”

The Red Sox, and their fans, are looking forward. Unfortunately it will come at the cost of some players who played really important roles in the team’s past.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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