The catching situation is one for which we have been waiting on a solution basically since the World Series ended last year. There have been arguments to make each of the three backstops the odd man out during this time, and the three are likely close enough in value that none of the arguments were that much better than some of the others. Either way, it ultimately came down to a choice between Sandy León and Blake Swihart to serve as the backup behind Christian Vázquez. León was the defensive-minded veteran who was beloved by the pitching staff. Swihart was the younger option with more limited defense, but also much more upside at the plate and a better shot at carving a long-term role with the team. In the end, they opted to stick with the youth and upside, placing Sandy León on waivers on Sunday. The move was first reported by Evan Drellich of WEEI.
Source: The Red Sox have placed catcher Sandy Leon on waivers. They're still carrying three catchers, wanted to break with two.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 24, 2019
So, with this decision the Red Sox have all but committed to the Christian Vázquez/Blake Swihart duo many of us envisioned all those years ago when those two were still prospects. The stock on them is not nearly as high now as it was then, but there is still potential with this pairing. Vázquez likely won’t provide much offensively, but at the same time it’s hard to imagine him not improving upon 2018’s dreadful performance. Swihart, meanwhile, as the aforementioned upside even though it hasn’t really been shown on a consistent basis at the highest level. Of course, he also hasn’t played very consistently in that time, and the hope is that a more regular role will bring out more production. Defensively, Swihart has made real strides over the last calendar year behind the plate, and while he’s not León and likely never will be he is still more than fine at the position.
As for León, the writing has been on the wall for a little bit now. When the report came out late last week that the team was shopping him in trade talks, it was clear their decision had been made. It seems those trade talks didn’t get very far and now the Red Sox are seeing if anyone will take León’s salary off their hands for free. He is set to make $2.475 million in 2019. If he makes it through waivers without being claimed, he will have the choice between taking a Triple-A assignment with the Red Sox or becoming a free agent. I’m guessing some team will take him at his current salary, as it’s not overly prohibitive, but if not I’d be surprised if he doesn’t test the free agent market. So, ultimately, this seems to mark the end of the León era in Boston. We’ll always have 2016.