Amid reports that the Boston Red Sox are fielding offers for Sandy Leon, is he the right catcher to be sent away from Boston?
It was reported today by Buster Olney of ESPN that there has been some interest in Boston Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon. While the Red Sox do need to relieve themselves of a catcher, Leon isn’t the one that should be moved. The three-headed dragon that was the Boston catching unit worked in 2018 but it isn’t something that can be sustained long term.
Leon has been with the Red Sox since 2015 and has become a rock behind the plate for the pitching staff. He’s even become the favored catcher of choice for lefty ace Chris Sale. The Condor is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2019 season and it could do Boston some good to keep his chosen catcher on the roster. It could be seen as foolish to keep someone just to appease one player, but when that player is one of the best pitchers in baseball, you think about it.
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With his efforts in working with the pitching staff and veteran leadership, Sandy shouldn’t be going anywhere. Now, that isn’t to say that Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart aren’t worthy of staying, they absolutely are. But Leon brings a calm behind the plate that I don’t feel the other two offer. Vazquez has been in the Red Sox system since 2008 arriving at the team via the draft. But it’s been Leon that has taken the lion’s share of the workload since his arrival in 2015.
The other factor in this whole equation is Swihart, and he poses an interesting conundrum. Though he is primarily considered a catcher he can also sub in at first base as well as in the outfield. Not to mention he is still on a favorable deal payroll wise and won’t become a free agent until 2023. He will be arbitration eligible starting in 2020 but I don’t imagine he’ll be able to command too wild of a salary.
Between Swihart’s strong spring training performances and cheap contract, I believe he’s safe. SO the conversation comes back to the two vets in Leon and Vazquez. Since we’re talking money, Vazquez is set to cost the Red Sox far more than Leon will over the next few years. Point Leon. But that is only a factor in the equation when it’s all said and done what happens on the field matters most.
Neither Leon or Vazquez are Ted Williams at the plate, but then again not many catchers are touted for their bats. A great catcher is worth his weight in gold for what they do behind the plate versus at it. This to me is where Sandy shines above Vazquez. I truly believe that Christian does just as much as far as work with the pitching staff but Sandy gives off that aura of being a leader with his pitchers. He knows everyone’s quirks and how to communicate with them in any scenario.
The bottom line is the Red Sox need to move one of these catchers and they need to do it ASAP. Each catcher has their own pros and cons that need to be weighed before a decision is made. If I’m Dave Dombrowski I am keeping Leon for his leadership behind the plate and for the fact it may open a door for Sale to sign an extension. With Opening Day less than a week away, it’s time to figure out who will be calling the pitches.