The most interesting player to watch heading into spring training was always going to be Blake Swihart. He was in a strange spot entering camp as the team already had two more established catchers and he was out of minor-league options. He was going to have to show enough to make the team believe it was worth keeping him as a super utility player to earn himself a roster spot and avoid being traded or placed on waivers. Well, he’s healthy for the first time in a couple of years and he’s been lighting up the Grapefruit League early on. Now, unsurprisingly, teams around the league are calling Dave Dombrowski with trade talks according to a report from Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal.
This makes all of the sense in the world. Teams know that the Red Sox have a bit of a roster crunch going on and that it’s easier said than done to carry three catchers with one of them spending the majority of their theoretical playing time out of his natural position. With Swihart showing strong bat-to-ball skills this spring, teams likely see this is a great chance to buy low. However, McAdam notes in his report that the Red Sox have not seemed too willing to make this kind of deal right now. He does mention that they could change their mind if they could get an elite prospect back in order to restock their farm.
That all sounds about right, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for a team to show a willingness to pony up a legitimate top prospect in exchange for Swihart. While his spring has been truly exciting and he’s not that far removed from being a legitimate top prospect himself, teams are too smart to buy in on his performance to this point. We all know better than to take these numbers too seriously, but it’s always easy to get carried away particularly if the numbers back up our preconceived notions about the player. The truth is that Swihart has been swinging a good bat against bad pitchers. Here’s a list of arms against whom Swihart has smacked his seven extra-base hits: Dietrich Enns, Gabriel Ynoa (x2), Jose Mesa, Johnny Hellweg, Charlie Morton and Chih-Wei Hu. This is not to pour too much cold water on his performance or to say that it should be completely ignored. All I’m trying to say is that no smart team would use this performance as justification for giving up a top prospect at this time. So, despite the trade interest it seems all but certain that the Red Sox will hold on to Swihart to start the year, and that is more than fine with me.