Saturday was a very busy day for the Red Sox front office, and most of it was before they presumably joined the rest of us in panic mode after Chris Sale left his start against the Astros early following a line drive striking him in the hip. Frankly, there’s too much happening too quickly for everything to get its own post, so we’ll break it all down here. Ready? Tbh it doesn’t matter, because I’m starting anyway.
Diamondbacks acquire Deven Marrero for a player to be named later or cash considerations
The most intriguing battle on the Red Sox roster has always been for the end of the bench, and after Blake Swihart quickly made his convincing case to stay with the team on Opening Day, it came down to Deven Marrero or Brock Holt for the final bench spot. There had been rumors that Boston was going to try to trade whichever one they didn’t want to keep, and that happened on Saturday. The Diamondbacks acquired Marrero from the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Marrero, of course, was a first round pick for the Red Sox that never really worked out. The infielder has a superb glove all round the dirt, but his bat never caught up with that skill. In the end, it appears Holt’s superior hitting, the fact that Holt looked better this spring, and likely Holt’s versatility and experience all led to this decision being made. Marrero isn’t a massive loss on paper, even given his glove. The Red Sox have another glove-first player in Triple-A with Tzu-Wei Lin, and one could argue that Lin has more upside at the plate. Marrero did always appear to be a good clubhouse guy, though, and judging from what little we know from the outside he seemed particularly close with many of the young players in the Red Sox core. That alone, of course, isn’t reason to keep him around, but it’s worth considering. At the end of the day, it’s not surprising they couldn’t get more than this for Marrero, and it’s unlikely they would have gotten much more for Holt either. For as frustrating as Marrero was to watch at the plate, though, he was a fun player to have around and we’ll wish him luck out in Arizona. This move also clears a spot on the 40-man roster, and a little later we’ll get to how it’s likely going to be filled.
Christian Vazquez signs a three-year extension
A little earlier in the morning, word came out that the Red Sox had agreed to a three-year extension with Christian Vazquez with a club option for a fourth year.
With all of the hype around Blake Swihart this spring and the focus around the fact that Boston plans to carry three catchers, it could have been easy to kind of push Vazquez out of your mind. The fact is, though, that he appears to be the best chance this team has at a long-term option behind the plate, and the Red Sox appear confident in that as well. It isn’t a massive extension or anything, but it does give them some cost control through his arbitration years and buys out at least one free agent year. His salary for this year remains unchanged from what was agreed to in the arbitration process ($1.43 million), and he’ll make $2.85 million in 2019, $4.2 million in 2020 and $6.25 million in 2021. The club option is worth $7 million, and can increase to $8 million if he has at least 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. This all comes from the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.
Terms of contract... Christian Vazquez will earn $2.85 million in 2019, $4.2 million in 2020, $6.25 million in 2021 with a club option in 2022 for $7 million ($250K buyout).— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) March 24, 2018
There is still some question about what Vazquez can provide at the plate, because while he showed some real improvement with the bat in 2017 there still appeared to be some batted ball luck aiding his performance. I find myself to be among the higher people on his bat, but he still needs to make some strides to continue last year’s level. Still, Vazquez provides a great defensive backstop for the next few years, at least. The extension will carry him through his age-31 season if the team option is exercised.
The Red Sox made more roster cuts
In between extending Vazquez and trading Marrero, the Red Sox made some more roster moves to further trim down their spring training roster.
Optioning Tzu-Wei Lin wasn’t much of a surprise, because as we talked about they only had room for one more bench player and it was going to come down to Holt or Marrero. Still, Lin will be back at some point in 2018. The pitchers, Roenis Elias and Robby Scott, being optioned is more interesting. It’s still not clear whether or not the Red Sox will indeed carry a lefty in their bullpen, but if they do Bobby Poyner is now the only option left. The southpaw has looked quite good this spring after putting up great numbers in the minors last year, but he also only has a half-season about High-A. The Red Sox coaching staff must have been really impressed by what they saw in camp. Poyner is the favorite to take that vacant 40-man spot mentioned above.
The final moves to send down the minor-league players were not at all surprising. Dan Butler is the team’s fourth catcher now, but as long as at least two of the three major-league catchers are healthy at all times we shouldn’t see Butler in 2018. Ivan De Jesus has been impressive this spring, and he’s likely right behind Lin on the infield depth chart to start the year. Rusney Castillo has also had a strong spring, but his contract seems likely to prevent him from getting promoted. Aneury Tavarez is part of the team’s limited minor-league outfield depth.
The Red Sox acquire catcher Michael Ohlman from the Rangers for cash considerations
Early today, I talked about the Oscar Hernandez signing and how it would likely lead to a move to bring in another minor-league catcher. The Red Sox didn’t waste much time making that move, bring in Michael Ohlman from the Rangers organization.
The #RedSox today acquired minor league catcher Michael Ohlman from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 24, 2018
Ohlman is a 27-year-old catcher who has bounced around a few different organizations, spending the vast majority of his professional career in the minors. The former 11th round pick of the Orioles did come up to play in seven major-league games for the Blue Jays last year and he had one single in 13 plate appearances. In 518 career plate appearances at Triple-A Ohlman has a .758 OPS. Expect him to join Butler on Pawtucket’s roster and for the two of them to battle it out for the title of fourth catcher on the organizational depth chart.
I think that’s everything. I’m going to go eat lunch now, so it’d be cool if the Red Sox would chill for a minte.