The Red Sox suffered a blow to their depth chart on Saturday when Christian Vazquez left the game in Kansas City in the seventh inning. It was unclear at the time why he was leaving, but after the game we learned it was due to an injury. Specifically, the catcher broke his right pinkie — his throwing hand — and is going to be spending some time on the disabled list. He is going to undergo more tests back in Boston that will give us a clearer timeline, but for now it seems like he’ll miss a somewhat significant amount of time.
With Vazquez out, the ripple effects are fairly obvious. Sandy León is going to be the regular catcher now, playing a lot more than he had been before and probably more than either of the two catchers had been playing before the injuries. The good news is that León has his strengths. Specifically, he is very good at dealing with the pitching staff while also being able to control the running game. Defensively, the team won’t miss a beat with León playing more. In fact, they probably won’t lose much offensively either as León has been the much better hitter. He has a 90 wRC+ compared to a 45 mark for Vazquez.
Where the Red Sox could potentially suffer is with the backup spot. Blake Swihart has been kept around as a third catcher all year, and this is ostensibly why. The team now needs him to play an important role behind the plate, and we will finally get a chance to see whether or not he can handle said role. I can’t speak too much to his defense because we haven’t seen him in catcher’s gear much at all this year. Offensively, however, he has a 25 wRC+, which is horrendous. The hope is that inconsistent playing time is behind that, and he’ll hit better as he plays more often. I’m not super confident, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
If they do decide Swihart just isn’t cutting it in this role, or one of Swihart or León gets hurt, they do have some unexciting depth in Pawtucket. Mike Ohlman has been the best hitting catcher in Triple-A, though he’s been spending a lot of time at DH and first base lately. If they decide he can’t really catch, the team also has Oscar Hernandez and Dan Butler. There is also the potential of looking at the trade market, which we’ll take a look at later this morning.
For now, we just sit and wait for more news on Vazquez’ timetable, as well as a corresponding roster move to take his spot on the active roster.