On Monday, we talked a little bit about the periphery of the Red Sox roster and where they could use some depth. Among the positions we covered was catcher, where the Red Sox do have three viable major leaguers. Of course, there is still no guarantee they can make room for all of them all year, and then the minor-league depth behind them is less than stellar. As such, I mentioned a few minor-league free agents behind the dish that could be looked at by the team. According to a report, they signed one of those names as Alex Kolodziej of Fanrag Sports is reporting the Red Sox have agreed to a deal with Oscar Hernandez.
It’s not specified in the tweet above, but one would have to assume Hernandez is coming to Boston on a minor-league deal. Simply put: he isn’t good enough to justify a major-league deal. Or, at least, he hasn’t shown enough at the major-league level. Hernandez is entering his age-24 season and has split his career between Tampa Bay and Arizona. The catcher went to the Diamondbacks after being selected in the Rule 5 draft as a 21-year-old with no experience above Single-A. Although Arizona managed to keep him all year thanks to some creative roster work, the loss of a development year has really seemed to affect the catcher over his career. He simply hasn’t been able to develop as a hitter and has only played in 22 major-league games over his career. However, he is an outstanding defensive backstop with some major-league experience and young enough to still have a little upside, so he’s an upgrade over the other minor-league catchers in the upper minors.
As for where Hernandez fits on the roster, he is essentially an emergency option who could move up to the third catcher role depending on how the major-league roster shakes out during camp. Right now, the plan is to have all three of Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart on the major-league roster. That is easier said than done, though, and we’ll get to that later today. Even if they do hold on to all three, though, there’s no harm in grabbing a little extra insurance. If they don’t, well, it’s unlikely they’ll go two straight years without using a third catcher, so the extra insurance could be very valuable. Hernandez isn’t the exciting signing we’ve been waiting for, but he makes sense given Boston’s roster.