Red Sox Rumors: Blake Swihart to have shot as starting catcher
The Red Sox carried three catchers through the 2018 season. While it proved a necessity at points, with payroll through the roof Boston needs to move one of them. Having the lightest of the salaries, Blake Swihart looks to benefit from this in 2019.
Dave Dombrowski has made it clear this offseason that the Red Sox need to move a catcher before Opening Day. Having three last season paid off for the World Champions as injuries to both Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez popped up during the season. But with the Red Sox flirting with the $246M Luxury Tax threshold, one needs to go.
As the Red Sox kicked off their fifth annual Winter Weekend on Thursday and the sound bytes have been coming in fast. One of the news pieces to note was Dave Dombrowski once again mentioning that the Sox will look to unload one of their three catchers this offseason.
I believe the majority of people would think that means Blake Swihart will be the chess piece to move but don’t be surprised if he’s still in Boston come March. Blake said in an interview on Thursday that he was told by the organization to get himself ready to contend for the starting position in Spring Training.
"“He’s coming to camp to compete to be our starting catcher,” said President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. “That’s first and foremost. He’s also in a position where he has the ability to do a lot of other things so we can keep his bat in the lineup when other guys are catching. He’s gonna be an important part of our club, competing for that starting spot.”"
That’s a huge show of confidence from the boss to Swihart and definitely sets the tone for what the Red Sox are looking to do in 2019. Now, this doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed a spot on the roster but he seems to have the eye of the front office on him. His biggest pros heading into the new season are his age, salary, and versatility.
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He is the youngest of the three catchers at only 26 years old. He has plenty of life left in baseball to continue honing in on his craft. Blake has spoken about his work ethic and desire to continue his career in Boston.
"“I think I’ve been in every trade talk since the day I got drafted. It’s kind of just the same thing over and over, from the trade talks. I just wake up every morning and get my work in. I’m still part of the Boston Red Sox so that’s what I’m focused on.”"
Swihart fully understands his number could be called at any time and he’d have to pack his locker up. Having that understanding and yet still coming in every day to punch the time clock without hesitation is a great mindset.
Looking at the wages of the of the three catchers, Blake has the advantage again as he’s set to make only $910K in 2019. Leon is scheduled for $2.48M, and Vazquez $4.52M. So with Boston needing to free up money and free it up fast, Swihart looks once again to be the safe choice to keep on the roster.
Finally, we get to the versatility that Blake Swihart offers Alex Cora on a daily basis. In 2018 Swihart played six different positions and never flinched at any of the job assignments. The fact that he can play in damn near any and every situation and position makes him incredibly desirable to the Red Sox.
With Spring Training coming faster than we realize, the Red Sox need to make a move with one of their catchers. Blake Swihart feels like the player that will benefit the most from the need to make the move as well as free up the cash. With the front office seemingly behind him, Swihart is in a great position to have a breakout 2019 campaign.