Ah. The catchers. The most interesting (and infuriating) position on the Red Sox. Over the last couple of years this position has become one of the more interesting to follow on the Sox roster, if only because not one player has developed as hoped but a handful have come close, gotten hot for a stretch, then returned back to Earth once they had earned a spot in the regular rotation. I’ll address each catcher individually below, then dive into my solution.
1. Christian Vazquez: A new extension makes him the #1 guy moving forward whether we like it or not. I personally like having him in the lineup and behind the plate. His defense is a comforting presence, even more so after watching other catchers botch play after play this season. At the plate he’s been good enough for me to have him remain the regular starter and I’m excited to see what he’s able to produce this season—I would love to see him justify the extension he got even more than he already has.
2. Sandy Leon: Hm. Uh. Hm. Well. Now what. I have fallen in and out of love with Sandy almost as much as I have with Joe Kelly…but that last one is not much of a concern anymore. With Sandy, however, it is hard to see a place for him on this roster moving forward. He’s a decent backup, he has an OK bat, and Chris Sale trusts him. That’s what kept him around last season (in MY front office at least) but Chris’s work with Vazquez this season makes him replaceable.
3. Blake "The Catcher That We Ask to Play Every Position in Order to Have Any Chance at Getting Some Playing Time Because We’ve Botched His Development But Don’t Want to Lose Him Because He Has a Ton of Potential" Swihart: Can he still catch? I would assume so, and therefore I believe he should be given ample opportunity to do just that. His health is a major concern, but that’s really the Red Sox’s fault anyway.
MY SOLUTION: I don’t believe a trade really gets the job done. I highly doubt anyone outside of CV has any value worth mentioning right now, and I don’t want to trade Blake Swihart even if we could get more than a PTBNL. I also don’t believe either one of Leon or Swihart makes it through waivers, making the log-jam the solution to its own problem for now. Essentially, I think Leon is the odd man out, but Boston would be foolish to just give away that catching depth for nothing. I’d explore trading Leon, and when that inevitably fails then you just stick with the current system and give Blake Swihart more playing time at other positions until something sticks or he establishes himself as the backup catcher, then you part ways with Sandy Leon in the coming offseason unless he can recapture his form...but that only complicates things even more.
EDIT: OOTP Baseball gave me some offers for Sandy Leon, namely a straight up trade for any of the following players
- Pedro Alvarez
- Kendrys Morales
- Josh Tomlin
- Francisco Liriano
- Jake Junis
- Lance Lynn
- Michael A. Taylor
- Collin McHugh
- Patrick Corbin
So maybe I know nothing, or maybe OOTP just feels bad for the Red Sox. Who knows, give me Jake Junis. Whoever that is. Leon for Junis and Swihart as the backup, keep Tzu-Wei Lin involved regularly at the MLB level to fill out the roster with talent.