Red Sox prospect Blake Swihart should be available in the right trade


Since taking over as the general manager for the Red Sox during the 2011-2012 offseason, Ben Cherington has made himself known as a player development enthusiast. Rather than making flashy acquisitions of star players, Cherington has made low-budget acquisitions (aside from this offseason’s signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval) and held onto his top prospects. His patience is beginning to pay dividends, with former top prospects Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts on the verge of stardom and several other top youngsters like Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, and Eduardo Rodriguez coming through the pipeline. However, there are times when it makes sense to deal top prospects to fill needs on the major league team and the Red Sox could very well be in that position in regards to Swihart.

Now, by no means am I advocating that the Red Sox trade Swihart. A 22-year old catcher ranked by many as the top catching prospect in baseball, Swihart is arguably the most exciting prospect in Boston’s farm system. Coming off a season which saw him slash .293/.341/.469 with 13 home runs between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket along with stellar defense behind the plate, Swihart is on the cusp of making his presence felt at the big league level.

The only obstacle in his path is another similarly exciting young catcher in Christian Vazquez. While Vazquez lacks the offensive prowess of Swihart, his defense is remarkably even better. In his first taste of big league action last season, Vazquez caught 52% of attempting base stealers, nearly double the league average, and hit .240/.308/.309 in 55 games. His offensive profile leaves a little bit to be desired, but he has shown the ability to reach base consistently throughout his minor league career, and should fall in around the league average when all is said and done. And even if he never fulfills his offensive potential, he doesn’t even need to hit much with his elite defense.

Don’t get me wrong, Swihart has a higher ceiling than Vazquez. While his defense may never reach quite Vazquez’s level, he projects to be a well above-average hitter and potentially one of the better all-around catchers in baseball. However, coming off a fantastic 2014 season, his trade value has never been higher and the Red Sox might be wise to dangle him around in search of a top starting pitcher.

It would be tough to part with Swihart, but in exchange a young, cost-controlled pitcher it would be very tempting to deal the New Mexican-born switch-hitter. Vazquez doesn’t have the potential to be as great a player as Swihart, but he also doesn’t have nearly the trade value and still looks to have the makings of a perfectly capable backstop. Once again, I’m not suggesting that the Red Sox trade Swihart, but if the right move comes around, it would make sense.