Red Sox likely to keep Swihart, trade Marrero or Holt

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 27: Blake Swihart
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 27: Blake Swihart /

The Red Sox infield logjam is becoming clearer as spring training winds down.

Blake Swihart isn’t going anywhere, thanks to his strong spring.

According to Evan Drellich of NBC, the Boston Red Sox have swayed toward trading one of Deven Marrero or Brock Holt instead, while Swihart essentially takes their spot on the roster. The Red Sox have looked at Swihart, 26, at nearly every position to create a role for him.

"“Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open,” a rival executive said. “More likely to move a utility guy.”"

Assuming the rival exec is referring to Marrero or Holt, who are more known for their utility roles. Holt, 29, has been occupying the utility role for Boston since 2013.

It comes to no one’s surprise to hear Marrero is a trade candidate after I wrote about Nick Cafardo’s report earlier this week.

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Marrero, 27, checks every box for defensive analytics, but he’s hit .208 in the majors and .227 in Triple A. The Red Sox can’t give a roster spot to a third baseman/utility man who can only field when Swihart’s bat is waiting to blossom.

However, despite the report, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn’t tipping his hand in any trade interest:

"“We do have depth with our middle infielders,” Dombrowski said Monday. “However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions.”"

Nagged by injuries and misusage, Swihart is looking to find some playing time that will allow him to show his true capabilities. There have been whispers about trade interest for Swihart with his hot spring training performance, but there hasn’t been a peep about Swihart’s availability since then.

Rightfully so.

The Red Sox still see Swihart as a catcher moving forward, but will give him opportunities to showcase his talent at the plate by playing other positions on the field, thanks to starting catcher Christian Vazquez manning the full-time role.

It remains to be seen if the Sox will hold on to Sandy Leon as the backup catcher, but Drellich makes a good point regarding Swihart’s status:

"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.)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."

That very well could be the case. The Red Sox don’t want to just give Swihart away simply because they have three catchers. The possibility of Swihart becoming the best of the three is very realistic, given his athleticism and hitting ability.

The Red Sox also don’t want to give away a proven utility infielder for a catcher who may not be fit for the role.

Of course, there are only nine spots in the batting order, and one catching position. Additionally, once Dustin Pedroia returns, Eduardo Nunez will also be fighting for playing time. Swihart’s role could get more diluted as the season wears on.

As I’ve written before, the last thing Swihart needs is more mismanagement from the Red Sox. The more time Swihart spends on the bench, the harder it gets for him to grow. Further stunting his growth only wastes his potential and wrecks his confidence.

We all saw how a young athlete could spiral down a path of irrelevance, just ask Daniel Bard. Odds are, he would gladly go back in time and refuse the starter role if it meant continued success asa reliever. Swihart’s case isn’t as fragile or drastic, but playing a catcher all over the field could be taxing on the 26 year old.

And no, playing shortstop in high school isn’t equivalent to playing infield positions in the majors.

In fact, last time we saw Swihart play a position other than catcher (left fielder), he was shut down the remainder of the season because of a gruesome ankle injury. Injuries happen, but unfamiliarity with a position certainly doesn’t help the scenario.

As spring training winds down, one of Marrero, Holt and Swihart will be gone with two spots available. Odds are, it isn’t Swihart. Marrero’s ineffective bat and Holt’s cap hit (2.225 million) all but assure these two are the likeliest candidates to be dealt.

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Speculatively, keep an eye on Marrero being shipped to a National League team for infield depth and more at-bats. Perhaps the Padres make sense. Marrero’s close friend Eric Hosmer now plays for the Padres, and Marrero has said he’s always wanted to play alongside him.