Catch as Catch Can...

Which Catcher Will Not Be Carried on the 25-Man Roster?


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Sep 13, 2006
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Cora has stated that the Sox are unlikely to carry 3 catchers again this year. So, who stays/goes and why?
 

charlieoscar

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I apparently can't vote but I'd keep Swihart because he is potentially a better hitter and runner than the other two, he is a switch-hitter, and he played C/1B/2B/3B/LF/RF last season.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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The injury to Perez in KC could make for a trade partner and both Vazquez and Leon would be more valuable chips at that position than Swihart but I still voted Swihart to be on the outside looking in.
 

Merkle's Boner

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I’d like to see them keep Sandy and Blake. I think they probably can get the most for Vazquez and I just believe Blake has the highest ceiling. Have Leon to fall back on and for certain pitchers who need the bin kid he provides.
 

chawson

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I think Vazquez goes by trade.

Catchers leaguewide:

2016: .242/.310/.391
2017: .245/.315/.406
2018: .232/.304/.372

The risk of playing Swihart full-time just isn’t very high. If he doesn’t hit, he still wouldn’t be much lower than a league average catcher (in 2018 terms). But he’s still got the most upside of the three, so the potential risk vs other teams is worth a year to see if he can put up a .750-800 OPS.
 
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Red(s)HawksFan

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I know Perez going down potentially creates a trade partner, but I can't get past the fact that Martin Maldonado is still available. Why trade something for Vazquez (who's locked up long term) or Leon when you can sign Maldonado for straight cash at roughly the same salary?

I think if the Sox ultimately go with just two of the catchers, the third is more likely to get released than traded.
 

Ale Xander

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I know Perez going down potentially creates a trade partner, but I can't get past the fact that Martin Maldonado is still available. Why trade something for Vazquez (who's locked up long term) or Leon when you can sign Maldonado for straight cash at roughly the same salary?

I think if the Sox ultimately go with just two of the catchers, the third is more likely to get released than traded.
Leon is younger and has a smaller salary than MM is (likely) gonna demand. I think $ is more important in KC than other places and you can get a lottery pick recent draftee instead of just nothing.

Yeah I don't think they trade for Vaz.
 

soxhop411

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From last week:
Swihart could be the one traded going by this article.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the eyes of Alex Cora, the Red Sox’ catching competition is wide open as Grapefruit League play begins this weekend.

The Sox won’t break camp with Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez all on the roster, meaning one of the three will either be traded or released before Opening Day. The trio has been shopped in trade talks all winter but no deal has materalized.

Cora is viewing the race holistically instead of putting too much stock in day-to-day performance. It’s an understandable approach for a manager who watched all three catchers in the majors for the entirety of last season.
While a variety of factors will play into the final decision, Cora does believe familiarity with the pitching staff will carry significant weight. He mentioned how both Leon and Vazquez were impressive with their handling of pitchers last year, with the team winning 25 out of 26 Leon starts during one stretch and Vazquez taking over in the postseason.

“Our pitchers, they trust them,” Cora said. “Obviously, yeah, Sandy has caught a lot the last two years and it seems like he’s caught the same guys a lot. It gets to a point sometimes where you have to make decisions based on that. With the offense that we have, it’s not that we’d like them to hit .200 or not get on base, but we feel that we’re still going to score enough runs.”
https://www.masslive.com/redsox/2019/02/boston-red-sox-catching-competition-wide-open-as-grapefruit-league-play-begins.html
 

geoduck no quahog

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I (obviously) don't read everything printed, but I recall several articles commending Leon for his game management...and several quotes from pitchers.

I can't recall anything similar about Vazquez. What am I missing?
 

DJnVa

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I apparently can't vote but I'd keep Swihart because he is potentially a better hitter and runner than the other two, he is a switch-hitter, and he played C/1B/2B/3B/LF/RF last season.
So which one would you NOT keep?
 

OCD SS

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Leon should be released as framing has been devalued and his offense is atrocious outside of a seemingly unrepeatable hot streak.That said, the Sox are probably not just looking at framing and defense/ throwing, but basing their personnel decisions behind the dish on who the pitchers are comfortable throwing to and just ignoring the postion's offense, which is pretty bad league wide.

That probably puts Swihart on the outside looking in, but I think he's more valuable as someone who can play many different positions and has the most offensive upside (at least in theory, working from a low bar for these 3), but as a player being paid arbitration rates without an actual offensive track record, he's long in the tooth to actually dream on.

That leaves the Sox without a trade partner willing to give up anything of value, so they may as well carry all 3 again and make use of that flexibility for pinch hitting and running in an attempt to scrape some use out of the position offensively.
 

Plympton91

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They’re clearly happy to keep Leon and Vazquez has some remaining upside and a silly, unnecessary long term contract tying him here.

So Swihart will go elsewhere for very little, after they refused to include him in packages for Coke Hammels. Hope he has a great career and shoves the shit Farrell put him through down their throats.

I posted this in the other thread, but KC probably considers Perez’s injury a blessing. They’ll be able to lose more games now, which is their goal, and maybe collect insurance money. I highly doubt they’ll do anything but replace Perez with the cheapest, worst player they can get away with.
 

Plympton91

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Leon should be released as framing has been devalued and his offense is atrocious outside of a seemingly unrepeatable hot streak.That said, the Sox are probably not just looking at framing and defense/ throwing, but basing their personnel decisions behind the dish on who the pitchers are comfortable throwing to and just ignoring the postion's offense, which is pretty bad league wide.

That probably puts Swihart on the outside looking in, but I think he's more valuable as someone who can play many different positions and has the most offensive upside (at least in theory, working from a low bar for these 3), but as a player being paid arbitration rates without an actual offensive track record, he's long in the tooth to actually dream on.

That leaves the Sox without a trade partner willing to give up anything of value, so they may as well carry all 3 again and make use of that flexibility for pinch hitting and running in an attempt to scrape some use out of the position offensively.
The problem is that if you don’t cut Swihart you have to cut someone else if Pedroia is healthy. Pearce, Leon, and Holt aren’t going anywhere. There’s only room for 2 of Nunez, Pedroia, and Swihart.
 

YTF

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Doesn't it seem to be Swihart? The Sox carried him on the roster for most (all?) of last season, yet were reluctant to use him behind the plate. He appeared in 28 games as a catcher, starting just 16. His 154 innings behind the plate equals a tick over 17 complete games.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Leon is younger and has a smaller salary than MM is (likely) gonna demand. I think $ is more important in KC than other places and you can get a lottery pick recent draftee instead of just nothing.

Yeah I don't think they trade for Vaz.
I don't think salaries would be all that far apart. Leon is making $2.5M, Vasquez $2.8M. Maldonado projects to be $3-4M...probably on the lower end if he is desperate to sign. Comes down to what the Red Sox would ask in return and what that's worth to the Royals.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Probably Vazquez. I think he might have a little more trade value than Leon and maybe a little less value as catcher.
Perez will likely be back next year, and he's locked in through 2021 for an average of about $13M/year. Given that, if I were the Royals FO I would have little trouble deciding between the guy who's in arb at relatively low cost for the next two years, and who can be non-tendered for 2020 if need be, vs. the guy who's also locked in through 2021. The difference in likely on-field value would matter less to me, given that no one in their right mind thinks my team is going anywhere this year.
 

Saints Rest

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It seems so likely that Swihart will be cut (mainly for the reasons related to 2018 that YTF posted) that I can’t imagine anyone would trade for him when he can be picked up off waivers for free.
If another team besides the Royals has a similar injury on their depth chart, then maybe a trade market develops, but barring that, I assume we will simply see ST play out with Swihart getting cut.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
It seems so likely that Swihart will be cut (mainly for the reasons related to 2018 that YTF posted) that I can’t imagine anyone would trade for him when he can be picked up off waivers for free.
With some positions I think this is true, but with a catcher, you don't really want to be adding that guy with 2 days left before the season starts. Ideally you want him to have some time to learn your pitchers. I don't think this consideration would be enough to make a team give up serious talent, but it might be enough to net a lottery ticket or two.
 

simplicio

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We also know that Seattle was looking for a defensive RHH backup and was talking to Maldonado. So maybe Swi/Leon could be an option for whichever of KC/SEA doesn't get him. Hard to see them letting go of Vazquez.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I really think Swihart will blossom into an above average offensive catcher while being a league average defensive catcher.. which would make him one of the best overall catchers in the game. But for some reason he's gotten perpetually jerked around and never had consistency. When he has (in SSS's obviously), he's shown to be pretty damned good.
Billy Beane will offer a decent bullpen arm and allow him to be the best catcher and we'll wonder why we can't get players like him.
I somehow accidentally voted for Vazquez though. Can't read.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
I really think Swihart will blossom into an above average offensive catcher while being a league average defensive catcher.. which would make him one of the best overall catchers in the game.
I think there was a time when that could have happened. But I also think that time has come and gone. It wouldn't shock me if he turned out to be a late-blooming standout, but I'd bet against it, and I definitely don't think it's happening in a Sox uniform. They're committed to Vazquez, I think--and regardless, I don't think they'd get anything of value for that contract, so they might as well keep him around. So I think it's a question of Leon vs. Swihart, and I think they'll pick the certainty of Leon's defensive value over the possibility of Swihart's offense.
 

Harry Hooper

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Feels like this "only keeping 2 catchers" campaign may be a bit orchestrated to try and drum up trade interest. If no reasonable deal emerges, I can still see them going North with all 3 on the roster.
 

bosockboy

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Feels like this "only keeping 2 catchers" campaign may be a bit orchestrated to try and drum up trade interest. If no reasonable deal emerges, I can still see them going North with all 3 on the roster.
Not really possible if Pedroia goes north. That means one of Holt, Nunez or Pearce doesn't.
 

charlieoscar

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Feels like this "only keeping 2 catchers" campaign may be a bit orchestrated to try and drum up trade interest. If no reasonable deal emerges, I can still see them going North with all 3 on the roster.
They might do that but if they carry 13 pitchers, then there is only room for 12 position players, nine of whom will be regulars (of course, it could be 12 pitchers). On the bench they would need a CF, a SS, and a C, at minimum. A lot depends on how Pedroia fairs. Holt is a very useful utility player but do you keep him and Nunez and two catchers on the bench?
 

Ale Xander

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They might do that but if they carry 13 pitchers, then there is only room for 12 position players, nine of whom will be regulars (of course, it could be 12 pitchers). On the bench they would need a CF, a SS, and a C, at minimum. A lot depends on how Pedroia fairs. Holt is a very useful utility player but do you keep him and Nunez and two catchers on the bench?
You start 3 CF's. You don't need another one on the bench.

I would prefer 11 P's though, Sale, Price, Porcello are pretty good innings eaters.
 

bellowthecat

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I think they should cut Leon and take their chances that he passes through waivers. I have seen nothing from Swihart that tells me he can't handle the position defensively. Leon is a black hole with the bat and really no upside there either.
 

YTF

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I think they should cut Leon and take their chances that he passes through waivers. I have seen nothing from Swihart that tells me he can't handle the position defensively. Leon is a black hole with the bat and really no upside there either.
But the fact that The Red Sox are so damned reluctant to give Swihart much playing time behind the plate should tell us something.
 

Ale Xander

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I think they should cut Leon and take their chances that he passes through waivers. I have seen nothing from Swihart that tells me he can't handle the position defensively. Leon is a black hole with the bat and really no upside there either.
I believe the pitchers like throwing to him. There were stats on it that i can't seem to find right now.
 
Jun 27, 2006
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Obviously, none of us know what the thinking is inside the organization, but by what has been written in articles, there are arguments for all three. Vasquez was most likely the choice of Farrell, does have 1 decent season, is a native of Puerto Rico, like his manger and is generally regarded as an above average catcher defensively. Leon seems to get most the compliments from the pitching staff, has had a half season of good offense, is a switch hitter and is considered above average behind the dish in all aspects. Swihart is by far the most athletic of the three, had a decent year offensively as a youngster, has the most offensive upside, plays other positions, also a switch hitter, and could have a possible PR hit if his trade/release isn't handled correctly because of his grief of losing his brother. None seem leaps and bounds better than the others.
 

YTF

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Obviously, none of us know what the thinking is inside the organization, but by what has been written in articles, there are arguments for all three. Vasquez was most likely the choice of Farrell, does have 1 decent season, is a native of Puerto Rico, like his manger and is generally regarded as an above average catcher defensively. Leon seems to get most the compliments from the pitching staff, has had a half season of good offense, is a switch hitter and is considered above average behind the dish in all aspects. Swihart is by far the most athletic of the three, had a decent year offensively as a youngster, has the most offensive upside, plays other positions, also a switch hitter, and could have a possible PR hit if his trade/release isn't handled correctly because of his grief of losing his brother. None seem leaps and bounds better than the others.
Your last point certainly doesn't make moving Swihart any easier, but it shouldn't be a factor nor do I think it will be.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I would prefer 11 P's though, Sale, Price, Porcello are pretty good innings eaters.
When was the last time the Red Sox carried 11 pitchers? Honest question, because I don't recall it happening at all last year with those innings eaters on the roster. In fact, for an extended period during the summer, they carried 13. I really don't think they're ever going to open the season with 11 pitchers again, unless it's an odd situation where a starter opens the year on the DL and is activated for his first start shortly into the season.

The days of a horse starting pitcher going 7+ and enabling the team to carry a shorter bullpen are over.
 

Cesar Crespo

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But the fact that The Red Sox are so damned reluctant to give Swihart much playing time behind the plate should tell us something.
During the playoffs, I think it was Joe Buck who said "Swihart is a utilityman who can catch a little." I thought it was the perfect description. Looking back on his career, I think he was a bit overrated and never should have been a top 20 prospect. He hasn't hit since his injury, and even before that hadn't hit well above AA. He was ok in 2015 and in limited time in 2016 but that was heavily aided by a .359 BAbip and .348 BAbip respectively. In 2018, it was .311. It's not like he was super unlucky last year in that regard. He just doesn't hit for any power whatsoever. For his career, he hits 1 HR every 68.4 At bats. His extra base hit % is 6.5, the league average is 8.0. His career ISO is .108. In the minors, it was .130. His career high ISO for a season is .176 in 2014 (.187 in AA, .116 in AAA). His 2nd and 3rd best marks were .133 and .130, which came in 2012 and 2013. He hasn't had an ISO over .100 since 2015.

Since 2016, across the minors and majors
Swihart 663 PA .217/.296/.308 66BB/157K.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Swihart will be gone. If they thought he was more valuable than either of the other two catchers, they would have played him more last year. Nothing has changed with any of these three guys so there is no reason to believe they now think Swihart deserves to get significantly more playing time over one of the other two.

The caveat to the above, of course, is if they get a surprisingly good trade offer for Vaz or Leon - since there's no reason to rush Swihart out the door this instant I suspect that possibility is the only reason he is still with the team.
 

Ale Xander

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When was the last time the Red Sox carried 11 pitchers? Honest question, because I don't recall it happening at all last year with those innings eaters on the roster. In fact, for an extended period during the summer, they carried 13. I really don't think they're ever going to open the season with 11 pitchers again, unless it's an odd situation where a starter opens the year on the DL and is activated for his first start shortly into the season.

The days of a horse starting pitcher going 7+ and enabling the team to carry a shorter bullpen are over.
When was the last time the Red Sox had such a good starting staff? With both Wright (or Vela if Wright starts on DL) and Johnson burdening the risk of a flameout, and without wasting a spot on a pitcher that only pitches when you're leading by small margin or tied, and no more than 3-4 outs, you can afford only having 6 relievers, when everyone is gonna be fresh on April 11 following 2 off days in 3 days. I see no reason that your front 4 can't go 7 innings in each of their first 2 starts. And Erod is pretty good for a #5.

And if multiple starters stink up the joint (seattle and az are weaker than last year, so extra doubtful), you can do a semi-phantom DL and bring up another long guy.
 
Jun 27, 2006
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Your last point certainly doesn't make moving Swihart any easier, but it shouldn't be a factor nor do I think it will be.
I agree with you 100%. But I feel that the only reason the ownership group kept Farrell as long as they did was his battle with cancer. Just my opinion, but could show precedence for how they view things.
 

Dewey'sCannon

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I think they should gamble on the upside of Swihart versus the known quantity of Leon. I think there's a good chance Blake improves all aspects of his game, offensively and defensively, with some more playing time. Leon is what he is. If Vaz struggles at the plate and Leon is the backup, we have no real hope for improvement. If Blake is the backup, then there's still some hope it's not a black hole.
 

Harry Hooper

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Not really possible if Pedroia goes north. That means one of Holt, Nunez or Pearce doesn't.
You're right. I was thinking they'd have to have 13 position players for a few weeks until they feel sure what Pedroia can give them, but I forgot about the two 1B.

If Pedroia doesn't end up in extended ST and the Sox still want a 3-man bench, it's only 2 catchers on the team plus a veteran is not making the 25-man roster -- Nunez? Moreland? Holt? Is Mookie backing up 2B?
 
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geoduck no quahog

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Thing about Leon and catchers like him (my guess):

A catcher can/should be the field pitching manager. He sees what the hitters are doing and suggests the pitcher's strategy. He knows what the pitcher has working and what stinks. I understand a guy like Sale who has no desire to strategize on the mound but prefers to be a machine that concentrates solely on mechanics. If that's how, say, 3 of the starters operate - then Leon's talent supersedes his hitting.

Not to say Vazquez (or even Swihart) can't develop the same talent, but right now, from reading the sports section, it looks like Leon's viewed as some kind of savant by the staff.

Interesting, because a catcher that can drive in runs and throw guys out would seem to be a better advantage for the pitcher.
 

TheoShmeo

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I’d be quite surprised if they traded Vazquez. At nut crunching time in October, Cora turned to him. Part of that was because Leon was lost at the plate. But I think Cora’s choice speaks volumes.

I also think that the pitchers like Leon so much makes him very hard to deal.

Blake is the odd man out.

Or as a curve ball and notwithstanding their best laid plans, they keep all three again. I see that as unlikely but still possible.
 
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Lose Remerswaal

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You start 3 CF's. You don't need another one on the bench.

I would prefer 11 P's though, Sale, Price, Porcello are pretty good innings eaters.
There is still 0.0% chance they start with 11 pitchers with that run of games they start the season with.

Unless they plan to use the Pawtucket shuttle or game the injured list somehow.
 

YTF

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I agree with you 100%. But I feel that the only reason the ownership group kept Farrell as long as they did was his battle with cancer. Just my opinion, but could show precedence for how they view things.
A lot of people felt that way and that may well have played a hand in things, but it's a bit difficult to equate the two IMO. Farrell was a manager with a recent World Championship under his belt who had been diagnosed with cancer, Swihart is a #3 catcher who hasn't any real amount of success the league who lost a brother.
 

YTF

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Another thing about the possibility of moving Vazquez, he's sign for the next 3 seasons for a total of $13.55 million. Not sure what the market is for a catcher of his abilities for 4.5 per. That said, of the 23 catching free agents available going into this season, 20 have signed contracts. Of the remaining 3, Jarrod Saltalamacchia retired and A.J. Ellis has moved into the San Diego FO. That leaves only Martin Maldonado and perhaps Evan Gattis who's largely past his catching days. I'm not sure what that last bit of info has to lend to the trade-ability of Vaz, but figured I'd put it out there.
 

Plympton91

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Vazquez was locked in as the starting catcher over Swihart when he got that ridiculous and unnecessary contract, and he’s at least a better hitter than most pitchers, which can’t be said for Leon.

So it comes down to Leon’s well-established inability to outhit Clayton Kershaw vs Swihart’s rumored defensive shortcomings, which were never mentioned at all while he was the primary catcher for the last 2 months of the 2015 season, during which the Red Sox played to a .550 pace.

One reason for that might be that his ankle got so totally screwed up as a result of the injury sustained as a direct result if the assinine decision to stop his full time development as a catcher in 2016.

This is why when you can trade a prospect for someone like Cole Hamels, you do it.
 

In my lifetime

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Oh no! Back to the same old Swihart refrain. And 4.5 MM per year might be a slight overpay so far, but it is certainly not ridiculous, nor does it handicap the RS in any way. Heck, it's 6 weeks of paying for HRam or Panda to not play for the RS.
 

RobertsSteal

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I’m actually bullish on Vaz having a bounce back year of sorts. Something like 250/310/375. It ain’t Johnny Bench, but I’d take it. Regardless he’s the best we have and isn’t going anywhere, especially at that price.

Leon? I think the starting pitchers, as a key strength for this team, have some sway in this and that will matter in the end.

Swihart was a nice dream for a while. But he’s never gotten the right opportunity to put it together and the pitchers don’t seem to like throwing to him. It’s time to let him move on - maybe he gets to play in a place like KC this year and finally gets to prove if he’s a quality MLB player.
 

nvalvo

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Personally, I would rather have Swihart than Núñez, but I suspect that might just be me. We have a ton of depth in the organization in terms of players with a Núñez-like skill set: Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin and Marco Hernandez. Michael Chavis can't play SS, but frankly, neither can Núñez.

Now that Holt actually looks to be past his concussion issues *knocks on wood* and Devers seems to have arrived for good, we need a multi-position specialist like Holt or Lin as a backup SS/3B and Pedroia caddy. Swihart can pick up a few innings at the corner IF spots. If anyone gets hurt, Marco and Chavis are in AAA.
 

joe dokes

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Personally, I would rather have Swihart than Núñez, but I suspect that might just be me. We have a ton of depth in the organization in terms of players with a Núñez-like skill set: Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin and Marco Hernandez. Michael Chavis can't play SS, but frankly, neither can Núñez.

Now that Holt actually looks to be past his concussion issues *knocks on wood* and Devers seems to have arrived for good, we need a multi-position specialist like Holt or Lin as a backup SS/3B and Pedroia caddy. Swihart can pick up a few innings at the corner IF spots. If anyone gets hurt, Marco and Chavis are in AAA.
Have Marco's arms been reattached yet? (Isn't he on his 43rd straight offseason recovery from shoulder surgery?) [/hyperbole]