Blake Swihart

Vazquez gets 3-year extension from Red Sox

Vazquez gets 3-year extension from Red Sox

The Red Sox and catcher Christian Vazquez have agreed to a three-year contract extension that runs through 2021 with a team option for 2022, the team announced Saturday.

Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported the contract details:

Vazquez, hitting .323 this spring with two homers, appeared in a career-high 99 games (85 starts) last season and hit .290 with five homers and 32 RBI. Vazquez also threw out 42 percent of attempted base stealers in 2017, the highest rate since 1987. 

Vazquez split time with Sandy Leon (85 games) behind the plate last season. The Red Sox will carry three catchers on the Opening Day roster if Blake Swihart, who can also play the outfield, makes team.

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Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
 
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
 
A true utility guy, that is.

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The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
 
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
 
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
 
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
 
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
 
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be the kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.

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Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
 
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
 
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."

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Drellich's Red Sox Opening Day roster picture

Drellich's Red Sox Opening Day roster picture

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Opening Day is later this month. As a spring-training exercise, here’s one way to look at the Red Sox' current roster situation.

The roster positions are numbered to 25, with a presumed 13 bench players and 12 pitchers.

There seem to be three competitions: Three players for two spots at the back of the bench, the final spot in the rotation (at least to begin the season while Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright rehab) and the final spot in the bullpen.

One perspective:

CATCHER (Alex Cora has said these two are his catchers, for those watching Blake Swihart’s progress closely.)
1. Christian Vazquez
2. Sandy Leon (no minor-league options)

INFIELD
3. Mitch Moreland
4. Eduardo Nunez
5. Xander Bogaerts
6. Rafael Devers
7. Hanley Ramirez

OUTFIELD
8. Jackie Bradley
9. Andrew Benintendi
10. Mookie Betts
11. J.D. Martinez

BENCH
12. BUBBLE-ISH: Brock Holt (options)
13. BUBBLE: Blake Swihart (no options), Deven Marrero (no options)

COMING BACK EVENTUALLY: Dustin Pedroia

STARTING PITCHERS
14. Chris Sale
15. David Price
16. Rick Porcello
17. Drew Pomeranz
18. Fifth starter, Brian Johnson (out of options, could be in bullpen)
BUBBLE: Hector Velazquez (options), Roenis Elias (options)

BULLPEN
19. Craig Kimbrel
20. Carson Smith
21. Robby Scott
22. Joe Kelly
23. Matt Barnes
24. Heath Hembree (out of options)
25. BUBBLE: Brandon Workman (options), Austin Maddox (options), Fernando Rodriguez (minors deal)


COMING BACK EVENTUALLY: Tyler Thornburg, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright

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