With Sandy Leon departing Boston, Christian Vazquez’s workload will increase. This could be positive and negative in terms of how it will affect his game.
After a December trade, Boston Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon will join the Cleveland Indians for the upcoming season.
Christian Vazquez and Leon formed a nice platoon at the catcher spot for the Red Sox over the past four seasons. Although there have always been questions asked about the offensive productivity from their position, there was always more than enough from a defensive standpoint.
Ultimately, the two played big roles in a World Series-winning side, and Leon departs Boston with a ring that caps a successful tenure within the confines of Fenway Park.
Vazquez changed the perception of Red Sox catcher offense this past year, as he had a breakout year at the plate. The 29-year-old will now have an increased role to play for the Sox as he becomes more of a day-to-day catcher than ever before.
Leon certainly leaves a hole to fill on the diamond. His ability as a defensive catcher and the relationships he formed with the likes of ace Chris Sale made him a very important piece of this ball club. His pitch calling and even his ability to frame pitches made him a great guy to have.
The Sox are lucky that they had two good catchers, as Vazquez remains in Boston and will just have a bigger role to play. It won’t all be on Vazquez though, as it was announced last week that the Sox had signed veteran catcher Kevin Plawecki to a 1-year-deal. Vazquez and Plawecki will be the two catchers on the roster come opening day, but how Alex Cora manages their workloads remains to be seen.
Plawecki has been in the majors for five seasons, four with the New York Mets and last season with the Indians – where Leon will fill-in for him. He’s a .218 career hitter who definitely doesn’t match the offensive prowess of Vazquez.
Leon and Vazquez’s strengths and weaknesses made them pretty interchangeable for the majority of their time in Boston together, with the exception of Vazquez’s breakout last year. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Plawecki. Vazquez will serve as the number one catcher, but with catchers, there’s always a need for rest more than position players. Plawecki will probably play every third or fourth day – basically whenever Vazquez needs a rest or is underperforming by his standards.
If Vazquez has another season like last – where he hit .276/.320/.477 then Plawecki will likely only see time as a true back-up, but there’s a chance that doesn’t happen and there’s a chance Plawecki can make a name for himself if he ups his game. Plawecki will learn from a defensive standpoint from Vazquez, just like Vazquez learned from Leon. The catcher spot certainly shouldn’t be a weak point for the Sox.
It’s about consistency for Vazquez. With a bigger workload, there could be bigger effects on his game. Whether more at-bats make his performances better, or he gets more fatigued – this could be a very different season than last year. What we do know is that he’s established himself as one of the more effective catchers in the game, and if he can be consistent with increased game time then that can only bolster this talented Red Sox line-up even more and give them what they need from that catcher spot this season.