Monday night is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. For the Red Sox, there were only a few questions marks heading into this deadline, with the biggest being backup catcher Sandy León. Projected to make just under $3 million, it wasn’t clear the team wanted to spend that much on a backup catcher who, while great defensively, still came in below replacement level in 2019 because of his skills (or lack thereof) at the plate.
It turns out they would not wait until the deadline to make that decision and instead found a team that would value León that much. Late Monday morning the Red Sox announced they had traded León to Cleveland in exchange for minor-league right-handed pitcher Adenys Bautista.
The #RedSox today traded catcher Sandy León to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league RHP Adenys Bautista.— Red Sox (@RedSox) December 2, 2019
Boston’s 40-man roster is now at 37.
The León part of the equation is simple, as outlined above. The Red Sox didn’t feel he was worth it considering the lack of offense he provided. That they feel more confident in ever in Christian Vázquez as a viable starter certainly helps as well. There seemed to be, at least in my eyes, at least some chance León would be non-tendered but brought back on a cheaper deal, but that is now out the window. Boston is now on the lookout for a new backup catcher option.
Either way, León was certain to be non-tendered, which means the return was not going to be much. Cleveland was simply trading for the right to offer León arbitration, and they gave up a low-level pitcher in Adenys Bautista. The righty is a 21-year-old who was signed out of the Dominican Republic for (as far as I can tell) an unknown signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2018 in the DSL and in 2019 he split time between the DSL and the AZL. Between the two levels he tossed 17 1⁄3 innings over 14 appearances, pitching to a 7.79 ERA with 10 strikeouts and 15 walks.
The return is not the point here, though. This was about getting rid of León’s salary, and getting literally anything is better than nothing I suppose. It is also worth noting that this is, of course, Chaim Bloom’s first real transaction with the Red Sox. For that, León will always be a part of team history.