Two days ago we published a column saying Christian Vázquez should be traded. As a “Boston Red Sox community,” this is what we do: offer viewpoints, even — especially — if they are provocative. We welcome them, in fact, and this take was solidly in that tradition.
Here is another viewpoint: No. the Red Sox should not trade Vázquez, because it is a very bad idea.
First off, Vázquez is good. He has hit over his head the last couple years, but as Red Sox fans have known since they won the World Series (checks notes) two years ago, you can live with some relatively light-hitting catchers if they’re good at the other (catching) part of the job. Vázquez is as good as a defensive catcher as the Red Sox have ever had, and while that sounds like damning with faint praise from certain angles, it’s the most impressive thing you can say from other, correct ones.
Second, Vázquez makes the rest of the team better. This was important on a team with good pitchers; I can’t imagine how much more important it is on a team with crappy ones. Whether the Sox are stuck with the former or the latter for the next couple of years, Vázquez is the rising tide that lifts all boats. I know it looks like this year has been a near-total disaster on the mound, but trust me when I say it would be worse without him. Or don’t. Though it’s obviously true.
Third, he’s cheap. He’s making $4.2 million this year, which is less than, among others, Chris Sale ($30 million), Dustin Pedroia ($13 million), Jackie Bradley Jr. ($11 million) and Martín Pérez ($6.5 million). Trading Bradley, for instance, would make waaaaaaaaaaaaay more sense than trading Vázquez, and should be sufficient to nab the “B prospect” the Sox could potentially net in either case. Trading Sale, unlikely though it is, would make even more sense, and could net the Sox an “A prospect,” provided the fan base was angry enough to again force Chaim Bloom to stealth renegotiate an otherwise competed trade à la the Mookie Betts debacle. (Anyone who doubts this sequence of events needs to be more skeptical on principle.)
Fourth, Vázquez is basically the only guy catching, and the Sox have more games to play. It is still important to try to play winning baseball, even in dark times. If you think this season was unwatchable with Vázquez, I cannot imagine how bad it would be with Kevin Plawecki, all respect due and all that. Trading Mookie was soulless, heartless and brainless but it wasn’t totally reckless, simply because they got an outfielder to replace him and had a bunch signed up to play in his doomed absence. There is no such backstop with Vázquez. Trade him, and you just get further into the shit.
Fifth, who would even want him? Or better: for whom would he be more valuable enough than he is to the Red Sox to make it worth it to them? Catchers are repositories of institutional knowledge; Vázquez, as much as anyone on the Red Sox, is the Red Sox. Alex Speier wrote eloquently on this subject. Given that the Sox could get the same B prospect for Kevin Pillar, a washashore easily tossed back to sea, there’s no reason to give away our hard drive, effectively.
Sixth, there is no sixth. Five points is enough. There are many good rebuilding options that are not silly and reckless and potentially seriously damaging to the team as trading their wonderful, cheap catcher, who has at least one more cheap year on his contract with an option for another. A B prospect isn’t worth this sea change.