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Opening the Notebook: Steven Wright’s knee and a catcher update

A couple of news hits come out as camp opens

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

With camp officially opening on Wednesday but many players having been down there for at least a couple of days, we already have some bits of news coming out from the beat reporters. A couple of things from Tuesday stood out to me, which we’ll talk about in this space.

Steven Wright’s knee is still bothering him

One of the big parts of camp opening is that we start to get some news on injuries for guys that have been dealing with ailments over the winter. One of them is Steven Wright, who spoke with reporters on Tuesday. The news wasn’t terrible, and it seems the knuckleballer is at least a bit upbeat. If you’ll recall, Wright has been dealing with knee injuries for the last couple of years (this isn’t the shoulder injury that came from the John Farrell pinch running incident, which I’ve seen a few times on the interwebs). Last season, he was on and off the mound all year and was taken off the ALDS roster just one game in and didn’t come back later in the postseason. Wright made clear his goal this year is to be “game ready.” His frustration the last couple seasons has largely stemmed from being on and off the DL, and he doesn’t want to deal with that again.

It certainly seems like his plan and the team’s plan is going to be to take things slow and make sure he’s ready to ramp up before he actually does. There is still a long way between today and Opening Day, of course, but with this talk I’m starting to think he might not be ready right at the start of the year. If he has to miss a few weeks at the start of the year to make sure he can be “game ready” the rest of the year, that’s certainly a trade-off the team will make. Remember, he is one of the three guys (along with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier) who has been mentioned as an in-house closer candidate. The Red Sox are big believers in Wright, and they’re going to do what they can to get the most out of him in 2019.

Red Sox shopping catchers for starting pitching help

This one comes from Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal, and is very interesting. According to McAdam’s reporting, the Red Sox are indeed shopping one of their catchers and are looking for rotation help in return. The first part about shopping a catcher is certainly no surprise, but looking for rotation help is surprising. The assumption was that, if they could get a major leaguer at all (which I’ll get to in a minute), it would be relief help. That doesn’t appear to be the plan here, though, as McAdam reports that Dombrowski has let it be known he wants young starting pitching in any trade. The reasoning is that they’d like to have a backup plan in case either or both of Chris Sale and Rick Porcello leave in free agency. The other part, which isn’t mentioned in the report but can be inferred, is that any starting pitcher could be converted to a relief role if necessary in 2019.

The issue here, of course, is that another team has to be willing to give up a young, controllable starting pitcher for one of these catchers. I can’t see that happening without it being part of a much bigger deal than a one-for-one swap. McAdam mentions that he’s heard Blake Swihart and Christian Vázquez are more likely to be dealt than Sandy León, which is a little surprising but makes more sense if they are trying to maximize their return. It’s a little surprising that Vázquez in particular was singled out as a guy they could move if the return is right, as he seemed like he had the inside track for the top spot on the depth chart after his postseason. Whoever they trade, none of them have more value than a low-level lottery ticket or another Triple-A reliever to add to the pile.