Boston Red Sox designate Sandy Leon for assignment, activate Blake Swihart
The Boston Red Sox designated backup catcher Sandy Leon for assignment on Monday, clearing a path for Blake Swihart to be activated from the disabled list.
Manager John Farrell indicated that Ryan Hanigan will remain the primary catcher, but Swihart will play more than the average backup and the workload between the two could come down to something close to an even split.
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Farrell cited a need to get more offensive production from the catcher position, which is something Swihart can provide. He was pegged as the top catching prospect in the minors heading into this season and profiles as a potential star at the position. He got off to a slow start that was the result of being rushed to the majors ahead of schedule due to injuries the Red Sox had suffered at the position, but was starting to round into form before a foot injury sidelined him at the beginning of the month. Swihart was 8 for his last 22 (.363) at the plate with 3 extra-base hits prior to landing on the disabled list.
Hanigan has been surprisingly efficient at getting on base, sporting a .364 OBP that ranks second on the team, but he lacks the upside that Swihart has. His value comes primarily on the defensive side with his work in handling the pitching staff. Boston’s starters have performed significantly better with Hanigan behind the dish, so it makes sense to lean on him for now while easing Swihart in.
Leon was hitting a meager .180/.247/.191 in 33 games with the Red Sox this season. He has been a good defensive catcher, but lacks Swihart’s bat or Hanigan’s knack for managing the pitching staff. Boston picked him up in April when Christian Vazquez was lost for the year to serve as the team’s backup catcher at a time when Swihart wasn’t ready to debut yet. With the Red Sox finally getting healthier, Leon was the odd man out.