Sox finalize deal for catching depth with Rockies

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A trade the Red Sox denied had been made at the time it was reported became official Tuesday night when the Sox announced they had acquired Triple-A catcher Mike McKenry from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Daniel Turpen.

McKenry gives the Sox insurance depth in case of an injury to catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Jason Varitek.

To make room on the team’s 40-man roster, the Red Sox announced that catcher Mark Wagner had been designated for assignment, an abrupt end with the organization for a player who had been billed as a top catching prospect.

There was no apparent duplicity involved when Sox GM Theo Epstein said, “There is no trade,”” when asked Tuesday afternoon to conform a report, originally from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, that a deal had been struck. At the time, according to a baseball source, the Rockies had not formally accepted Boston’s offer, and they did not do so until early Tuesday evening.

The Sox had made little secret of their desire to find some experienced catching depth in the organization to back up Saltalamacchia, whose career has been plagued by injuries, and Varitek, who turns 39 on April 11.

Manager Terry Francona had said that the Sox would look internally first, but apparently decided that Wagner was not the answer. The 26-year-old southern Californian had made steady progress through the Sox system and was highly touted last spring by catching instructor Gary Tuck, but Wagner had two surgeries on his left wrist last year, and in each case a bone was removed. The organization also felt he was not throwing particularly well this spring.

McKenry, 26, made a cameo appearance for the Rockies last season, going hitless in nine plate appearances. But he comes with a reputation as a strong defensive catcher, which Francona has said was the quality the team valued most in that role.

Turpen originally came to the Red Sox from the Giants in the Ramon Ramirez trade, was taken by the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft, then returned to the Sox on March 13. The 24-year-old right-hander was a reliever whose sinker intrigued the Red Sox.