The 28-year old began this season in Pawtucket as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. His stint in the minors didn’t last long, with a call-up coming in mid-April, but Vazquez never managed to establish himself as the team’s starting catcher.
Defense has always been his calling card, but no matter how great Vazquez is behind the dish he needs to be able to hit at least a little bit. The Red Sox sent him back to Triple-A in early July when they tired of his meager .226 batting average, by which time Sandy Leon was beginning to emerge.
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Leon, who is also out of options, should be expected to be the primary catcher entering next season. While his bat cooled off down the stretch, his second half production earns him the opportunity to see if he can approach that level over a full season.
That leaves Vazquez as a backup catcher, a defensive specialist that could start a couple times per week. Leon is a quality catcher in his own right, so the Red Sox won’t need to substitute him for a defensive replacement often, but Vazquez should be used frequently enough to avoid Leon wearing down – as he seemed to do at the end of this year.
Bryan Holaday is another catcher out of options, but with the Red Sox seemingly set at the position he’s likely to be viewed as expendable.
Locking Vazquez into the backup catcher role presumes that Blake Swihart is unlikely to shift back to that position, yet his spot in left field was taken while he was sidelined with a season-ending ankle injury. It may take an injury or trade for Swihart to begin the season in Boston.
Opening Day chances: High