Red Sox: Recent moves could open the door for a Blake Swihart return
The Boston Red Sox recently traded backup catcher Sandy Leon, this could give them a chance to bring back one of their former top prospects.
We’re fully entrenched into the offseason Red Sox Nation and Chaim Bloom is beginning to put his fingerprint on this team. Earlier in the week, we found out that he had traded backup catcher Sandy Leon to the Cleveland Indians, leaving Christian Vazquez as the only catcher on the roster. As the CBO prepares for the upcoming Winter Meetings, he’ll have the opportunity to sign a backup catcher on a bargain.
At the beginning of the 2019 season, third-string catcher Blake Swihart was sent to Arizona in order to end the great catcher debate in Boston. Unfortunately his time out west wouldn’t be fruitful and he would be granted free agency in September. Towards the end of the season the Sox called up Juan Centeno to join the 40-man roster but he’d be outrighted soon after the season ended, electing free agency.
With Leon and Centeno both gone this opens the door nice and wide for a return to Beantown for Swihart. The Red Sox can’t go the entire season with just Vazqy and a callup, they need someone that is familiar with the pitching staff and city. Blake was once ranked the 24th overall prospect in 2014, which also saw him as the 2nd overall prospect in the Boston farm system.
This is a golden opportunity for both sides to make right on the massive mismanagement of Swihart’s career. What was once a promising future behind the plate was thwarted by the desire to turn him into a utility player when it wasn’t necessary. By not giving him as many reps behind the plate and shuffling him around the diamond his catching skills waned.
I understand the want for more than one utility player and we’ve seen Alex Cora tinker with his lineup over the last few years. In that same sense, getting someone more playing time is still better than having them collect moss on the bench.
However, when you don’t know what your job is going to be on any given night, it can mess with you mentally. It’s impossible to prepare and get yourself as ready as possible when you have no idea where you’re going to be playing.
Going into this offseason we knew what the gameplan was going to be for the Red Sox. They were going to try and move pieces in order to beef up the pitching staff and add quality players.
We also knew that Boston was going to try and spend as little as possible on the roster as they want to reset their CBT penalty marker. This bodes well for Swihart again as he only made $910K in 2019 and I can’t imagine he’d garner much more in free-agent negotiations.
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Bringing back Swihart would fall right into Bloom’s gameplan of building a team on a budget while also fielding a contender. We all know Vazquez has the everyday slot all sealed up but it would be in the best interests of the Red Sox to bring in a backup that the pitching staff is familiar with.
Vazqy will eventually need a day off and we all know how much the injury bug loves the Sox, having a guy that can jump right on would make life easier for everyone.
As I said above, this could also give both sides a chance to make right on what could have been all those years ago. Getting more reps behind the plate and with the pitching staff could allow Blake to finally achieve the potential that everyone saw in him back in 2014. There’s nothing better than a redemption story and if we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that there isn’t a better redemption story than one in sports.
During his time with the Red Sox in 2019, he posted a .231/.310/.385.695 which is pretty decent considering he only saw action in 12 games. Just like with any athlete, the reps will determine the outcome and getting more action can yield great results. Vazqy saw 138 games behind the plate in 2019, so even with that split, it would benefit Swihart greatly as it would at least double his playing time.
Boston is in need of some pieces this winter and they can be achieved by wheeling and dealing and doing some bargain shopping. Adding a catcher to backup Christian Vazquez should be on Chaim Bloom’s “To-Do List,” and Blake Swihart could be a perfect choice. Having a familiar face return to Fenway Park could give the team a spark in 2020 and they could definitely use one after last season.