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Journeyman MLB Catcher Ryan Lavarnway Retires After 18 Pro Seasons

 Matt Tallarini  |    Mar 23rd, 2023 6:50pm EDT

Ryan Lavarnway of Team Israel bats in the sixth inning during Game 9 of Pool D between Team Venezuela and Team Israel at loanDepot Park on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in Miami, Florida. Lavarnway announced his retirement from baseball following the tournament. (Photo by Rob Tringali/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Veteran catcher Ryan Lavarnway retired after 10 seasons in Major League Baseball and 15 seasons overall in professional baseball.  

Lavarnway, a journeyman for most of his professional career, played for nine different Major League Baseball teams, most notably as the third string catcher for the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, where he hit .299 in 25 games, making 82 plate appearances with 18 hits, one home run, and 14 RBIs. He announced his retirement via an essay for The Athletic yesterday.

Lavarnway wore 18 different uniforms over his career and was optioned, traded, claimed on waivers or released a combined 26 times throughout his career., and played for the Pirates, Braves, Athletics, Marlins, Reds, Indians, and Orioles in the major leagues.  

A sixth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2008, he was twice named the organization’s minor league offensive player of the year. He suited up twice for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and played in a combined 25 games during the 2017 and 2023 tournaments. Lavarnway was named Pool A Most Valuable Player during the 2017 tournament, going 5-for-9 and hitting .556 with a home run, three RBI and four walks, helping Israel advance to the second round. Lavarnway hit .565 overall in the 2017 WBC, with two doubles and 6 RBI. 

During the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Lavarnway played in three games in Pool D at loanDepot Park with nine at-bats. He batted .111 drew one walk and struck out three times as Israel went 1-3 in the first round.  

In November 2019, Lavarnway obtained Israeli citizenship to play for Israel in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. During the 2020 Summer Olympics, Lavarnway batted .350 in 20 at-bats with three runs scored, two home runs, and three RBI’s in the tournament. Lavarnway’s slugging percentage in the Olympics was .700, the fifth highest in the tournament. In 2020, Lavarnway was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.  

Lavarnway saw a total of 165 MLB games and 486 trips to the plate, during which he batted .217, an on-base-percentage of .272, and a slugging percentage .345 with nine homers.