The Red Sox will end up without their expected starting catcher, as Christian Vazquez is set to receive a second opinion from elbow expert Dr. James Andrews. While that won't happen until Wednesday, the Red Sox aren't taking any chances, and have added another catcher to the organization just in case. Sandy Leon, a 26-year-old backstop in the Nationals' organization, is now with Boston according to Leon himself. To make room for him on the roster, the Red Sox placed Vazquez on the 60-day disabled list.
Even if Vazquez doesn't need Tommy John surgery on his elbow -- that's the Dr. Andrews' standby and the reason you visit him -- he will require significant rest to recover. Combine that with the need for the 40-man spot, and it comes as no surprise that the Sox invoked the 60-day rather than the 15-day DL for their ailing catcher.
Leon's minor-league numbers aren't going to wow you, but they aren't supposed to. Leon could act as the backup to Ryan Hanigan, whom the Red Sox acquired from the Padres this offseason in exchange for Will Middlebrooks. Leon's defense is well-regarded, so at least in that respect, the Sox will be set between their two catchers. If Leon hits a little bit, that's a nifty little bonus, but let's remember that the combination of Vazquez/Hanigan was always going to be the weak link in an otherwise powerful Red Sox lineup.
As Leon is out of options, the Red Sox will have to keep him on the big-league roster in order to hang on to him. All he cost the Red Sox was cash and weeks of Vazquez, who was already likely to miss them anyway: the Nationals mostly traded Leon because they already had enough catchers and preferred to be proactive with a deal rather than place him on waivers.
Besides pushing journeyman Humberto Quintero aside, the acquisition of Leon also means that top prospect Blake Swihart will remain at Triple-A to begin the season. The Sox could still decide to go with Swihart over Leon in this final week of spring training, but it's more likely Swihart begins the season with Pawtucket and comes up when he shows he's ready for it. While he's very talented and there is promise for a high-quality catcher there, Swihart has just 18 games experience at Triple-A, and is still just 23 years old. Another couple of months in the minors could be beneficial to him, but if he comes out mashing, there is nothing stopping Boston from calling Swihart up earlier than planned.