As for Leon, this one is a bit trickier. The veteran catcher is a wasted spot in the lineup, hitting a putrid .177 while producing a .511 OPS that ranked dead last in the majors this season among hitters with 250+ at-bats. His -0.5 WAR suggests he was one of the least valuable players in the league.
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Leon’s value stems primarily from his work behind the plate. He led the league at his position with 12 defensive runs saved and 5 RerC, which measures the number of runs above or below average the catcher was for the pitcher’s ERA. His true value to the Red Sox can’t be measured by statistics. His rapport with the pitching staff makes him invaluable.
No matter how awful Leon is with a bat in his hands, the Red Sox may be included to bring him back at a projected price of $2.3 million simply because their pitchers want him back. If Chris Sale says he wants Leon as his battery mate, you listen to what the ace says – especially when he’s a year away from hitting free agency himself.
While he’s not on the list provided by MLBTR, Blake Swihart could be a non-tender candidate if Leon does return. The Red Sox were willing to keep him on last year’s roster as a third catcher and their experimentation with using him at other positions shows their intent to find a spot for him. However, he was rarely used this season and is no longer dirt cheap now that he’s arbitration eligible. His projected $1.1 million salary for next season is affordable but the Red Sox may look to cut costs where they can in order to avoid the harshest luxury tax penalties for a second consecutive season.