Red Sox

Agent asks Red Sox to trade Blake Swihart

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Agent asks Red Sox to trade Blake Swihart

BOSTON — Blake Swihart has spent all season in a virtually non-existent role, one that Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowski both indicated on Tuesday will not change barring injury to Sandy Leon or Christian Vazquez. Swihart's agent, Brodie Scoffield of The Legacy Agency, sees a situation that's been unproductive for both the player and the team, and has asked the Red Sox to trade Swihart.

“Yes. We’ve had conversations with the team, and they’re aware of how we feel,” Scoffield told NBC Sports Boston on Tuesday night. “Blake’s in a really difficult position. We’ve got a switch-hitter, offensive impact player, and his bat deserves a chance to be in the lineup. 

“Blake’s not the type of player that’s going to ask or demand a trade [on his own]. He’s focused on what’s in front of him and happy having a positive impact on the team and the situation at hand. That being said, I don’t think we’re building any type of trade value, nor helping him progress as a ballplayer, nor is the team really being served by him in this role.”

Swihart earlier in May said he would leave the trade topic to Scoffield. Scoffield declined to comment at the time. Now, with more than a quarter of the season completed and Swihart still serving no purpose other than “protection for us as a third catcher,” as Dombrowski put it Tuesday, Scoffield is pushing for change.

"With Dustin Pedroia returning, it seems now would be the time to make a move with Blake," Scoffield said.

Reached by email Wednesday, Dombrowski did not let on how he plans to handle this situation.

"Always listen to the player/agent and understand their desire to play," Dombrowski wrote. "However, do not have any set policy about this type of request."

With Carson Smith hurt, the Sox have an obvious need for a reliever that Swihart could help them fill as a trade piece.

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The way the season has unfolded has been an about-face from the potential super-utility role Cora publicly described for Swihart in spring training. Leon and Vazquez, meanwhile, have given the Sox the worst offensive production at catcher in the majors, but even a single start for Swihart behind the plate has not materialized.

“The plan is very much like it is right now,” Dombrowski said Tuesday, prior to Scoffield's comments. “He is a protection for us as a third catcher. Really, I know people keep writing about that too, but the reality is, your 25th player usually doesn’t play that much anyway, really. It’s more an unfortunate situation I think probably for him, because a lot of times it’s a veteran-type player that fits that role that doesn’t play all that much. And for him, ideally he’d be out there playing on an every day basis, but with the rules and the optional status, we just don’t have that luxury with him. So he’s in a spot where he contributes. 

“He’s a protection, third catcher for us. He gets in the lineup every so often, and it’s just up to him to be in a position to try to do the best he can. It’s a tough role, we know it. But it’s not like if we went and moved him off and put somebody else on that that other person would be playing a great deal. They really wouldn’t be playing at that point."

Swihart, 26, has had four starts at designated hitter, one inning behind the plate, four innings at first base and 19 innings in the outfield. He has not hit well in 32 plate appearances: 4-for-29, or a .138 average. But he cannot be expected to produce with scarce opportunity.

The only merit to the status quo for the club: they retain Swihart in the organization. Dombrowski’s description of Swihart’s roster spot as one that typically relegates a player to little on-field time is a stretch, particularly on a club where Cora is emphasizing rest and keeping everyone fresh. The Sox theoretically could carry a reliever they would use in Swihart’s place.

The playing time of any player, a “25th man” or otherwise, usually depends on skillset: speed, defense, whatever it may be. But Swihart has barely had a chance to do anything. He has not been asked to pinch hit since April 27. Swihart is often praised for his athleticism, but has not pinch run since April 5.

Vazquez and Leon entered Tuesday with a combined .452 OPS, the worst in the majors. Cora on Tuesday was asked if there is a point where what those two bring defensively is outweighed by their poor hitting.

“We’re scoring a lot of runs still,” Cora said before a 5-3 loss to the A’s. “If we were struggling as a unit offensively, we might think about it, but we’re scoring runs.”

One of Swihart's outs in a rare start Monday had an exit velocity of 108 mph, a harder hit ball in play than Leon has this season, and harder than any in Vazquez's big league career.

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In Fort Myers this spring, Cora made a reference to Astros standout Marwin Gonzalez when talking about Swihart.

“The Marwin Gonzalez’s of the world are good for the manager. They really help you out,” Cora told reporters in mid-March. “With Swi, the way he’s moving around and the way he’s swinging the bat, I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say super utility. But that’s what you envision, like Marwin. He’s good on both sides of the ball, so you can move him around and your lineup doesn’t suffer and defense stays the same.”

Said Scoffield: “We’re talking about Blake being the Marwin Gonzalez of the Red Sox. We’re talking about ground balls at second base, we’re taking ground balls at third base, we’re in the outfield, we’re catching. But none of that’s materialized. And so it’s mixed messages. It’s an undefined role for a player that can catch, that can hit, and whose athleticism allows him to move all around the diamond.”

Swihart’s case is a unique one where the player has been particularly agreeable to the team’s needs and requests. But there's no way his lot improves now besides someone being moved or getting hurt. When Swihart sits, he doesn't grow personally or in trade value. Swihart cannot be sent to the minor leagues freely because he is out of options.

A top prospect and first-round draft pick out of high school in 2011, the Red Sox had Swihart move from shortstop to catcher when he entered the organization. They asked him to move to the outfield in 2016 when catching didn’t work out immediately at the big league level, and Swihart got hurt playing the outfield. He wasn’t fully himself in 2017 until winter ball, when he hit well. In spring training this year he drew a lot of attention with early success. He's been working hard at multiple positions during the season, including at catcher. But his only starts have come at DH.

Dombrowski hinted that a move with Swihart could indeed come when Pedroia returns in roughly two weeks. But that's not a guarantee. If the Sox make room for Pedroia in a way that doesn't directly involve Swihart — say Eduardo Nunez happens to go to the disabled list — Swihart could find himself in the same situation. Sitting around, waiting for the very slim chance he gets to play.

“With the flexibility that we have, with [Brock] Holt and Nunez both, now when Pedey comes back — which I anticipate sometime in a couple weeks, I don’t have the exact time, but he’s making significant strides — we’ll have to make a move at that point,” Dombrowski said. “And we’ll see that, where it takes us."

Scoffield hopes the Red Sox agree the moment should take Swihart to greener pastures, somewhere he has a chance to help his team.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

The Baseball Show Podcast: J.D. Martinez on pace for monster season

The Baseball Show Podcast: J.D. Martinez on pace for monster season

Lou Merloni and Red Sox insider Evan Drellich debate and discuss some of the week's biggest Red Sox topics, presented by Twin River Casino. . .

0:22 - With a pair of homers on Sunday vs. the Orioles, J.D. Martinez continued his hot streak and is on pace to surpass the team's expectations of him. Lou and Evan discuss Martinez's power to all fields and how his hitting approach has had a positive impact on his teammates.

6:44 - Lou and Evan break down the ugly situations for Carson Smith, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart and discuss what the club can do to deal with the struggles of all three players.

13:40 - Evan and Lou go around the horn and look at a few headlines from around the league: Robinson Cano's 80-game suspension, the Cubs interest in Manny Machado and Dustin Pedroia's nearing return to the Red Sox.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

J.D. Martinez's 2 vastly different HRs lead Red Sox past O's

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J.D. Martinez's 2 vastly different HRs lead Red Sox past O's

BOSTON -- J.D. Martinez took plenty of ribbing in the dugout after slicing a short home run inside the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park.

A few innings later, he showed his teammates some serious power.

Martinez hit two vastly different drives for his first multihomer game with Boston, powering Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox to a rare 13-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

It was the most hits Boston has allowed in a shutout since at least 1908, the team said.

Signed to a $110 million, five-year deal as a free agent in February, the 30-year-old Martinez curled his first home run an estimated 324 feet around the right-field foul pole. He hammered his second - projected at 443 feet - to the deepest part of the ballpark, beyond the center-field triangle, for his 15th of the season.

"They were making me laugh," Martinez said, standing in the middle of the clubhouse with a smile on his face. "I said, `I've got to get even for some of the ones I hit in April when it was cold out and I thought I crushed some and they weren't even going anywhere.' They were definitely teasing me, but I'll take it."

When reminded about the distance of his second one, he said: "I let `em know."

Martinez drove in three runs, and Andrew Benintendi had a two-run homer among his three hits as the Red Sox won three of four in the series to improve to 6-1 against Baltimore this season.

Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts is impressed by Martinez's power to the opposite field.

"I don't know if anybody else can do what he does, so that's why he's one of a kind," Betts said. "He can also hit it out of any part of the park, too."

The Orioles got 13 hits but lost for the 15th time in 16 road games and dropped to a major league-worst 4-19 away from Camden Yards. Adam Jones had three of Baltimore's 12 singles.

"It's hard to get 13 hits and not score any runs," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's frustrating."

Rodriguez (4-1) scattered nine hits, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter in 5 2/3 innings.

Leading 1-0 in the fifth, the Red Sox chased David Hess (1-1) and took charge with four runs. Benintendi hit his shot into the Orioles' bullpen after Jackie Bradley Jr.doubled leading off.

Mitch Moreland doubled before Martinez belted his second homer of the day. His first came in the second inning.

Hess gave up five runs and eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in his second major league start.

"They definitely make some adjustments quick and you have to be able to adjust just as quick," he said. "That's a lineup that from top to bottom can do damage."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: 1B Chris Davis was out of the lineup because he's been struggling against left-handers, batting only .139 (5 for 36). ... Showalter said Jones exited in the seventh because he was sick.

Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora gave DH-1B Hanley Ramirez, in a 5-for-26 slump with no extra-base hits in his last six games, the day off "to work on a few things and keep him off his feet." ... Cora did the same for shortstop Xander Bogaerts, saying: "I think he only had like one off day since coming back from the DL." Bogaerts was sidelined April 9-27 with an injured left ankle. ... 2B Dustin Pedroia (recovering from offseason left knee surgery) was slated to be the DH in a rehab game at Triple-A Pawtucket.

LIKE AN INFIELDER

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski played a foul ball that sailed into his box behind home plate on the bounce, picking it up from a tabletop in front of him. Next to him was former Red Sox right fielder Dwight Evans, who won eight Gold Gloves during his career.

DOUBLE THREAT

Martinez and Betts became the first pair of players in Red Sox history with 15 or more homers in the first 50 games of a season.

GREAT ENDINGS

The Red Sox improved to 14-1 in series finales.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner (1-5, 4.83 ERA) starts Monday in the opener of a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox.

Red Sox: After an off day, LHP Chris Sale (4-1, 2.29) pitches Tuesday at Tampa Bay. Sale has allowed three or fewer runs in all 10 of his starts.