It’s being reported that Christian Vazquez is going to be called up to the Red Sox for Friday’s game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. This is great news for the Red Sox. Vazquez is a game-changer on the defensive end. He’s been playing consecutive games in AAA to show that he’s fully recovered from having Tommy John surgery last year. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out in terms of the roster. The Red Sox don’t need to send anyone down tomorrow as Pablo Sandoval was put on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Right. What this means is that if there are no other moves made, the Red Sox will have three catchers on the roster with Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Ryan Hanigan.
Vazquez rejoining the team gives the team a lot of flexibility and options. Granted, he’s going to have to show that he can consistently play almost every day and that there’s no impact to his throwing. That may take some time. However, even if Vazquez doesn’t play every day in the next couple of weeks, it’s still going to be difficult to get Blake Swihart at bats. There’s no major concern with not giving Hanigan at bats. He’ll likely continue to play once a week with Swihart and Vazquez splitting duties for right now. Long-term, there’s no way the Red Sox are keeping all three as catchers and it’s likely the Swihart is going to be the odd man out. This means Swihart will probably go to AAA and continue to work out his game.
Assuming that Vazquez takes over as the Red Sox catcher in the next month or so, the first thing it does is it makes the pitching staff happy and, more importantly, better. Multiple pitchers on the Red Sox have expressed how much they enjoy pitching to him. He receives the ball very well and all indications are that he’s very strong mentally behind the plate. He can change the game with his glove and pitchers like Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, and even David Price should benefit from having Vazquez back there. How about a defense of Vazquez, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley up the middle?!
With Vazquez leading the way, the Red Sox will then have the flexibility to trade Swihart. Granted, Swihart has a lot of talent and he has already shown signs of being able to hit MLB pitching very well. However, he’s not an elite defender…at least not right now. Unless the Red Sox plan to move him to another position or Vazquez doesn’t work out, there won’t be a place for Swihart on the Red Sox. The return in a trade could be excellent and there’s a major need in the starting rotation.
Given the Red Sox dire need for starting pitching and their young talent behind the plate, a trade of Swihart in a package deal for a front end of the rotation starter makes a lot of sense. Even if it’s a legitimate #2 starter, think of how much that would mean to this team. It would improve the team immensely in the short-term and the long-term loss would not be as glaring as long as Vazquez pans out as he’s expected to.
Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox want to win now. If Vazquez shines in the next month, look for the Red Sox to make the most of the opportunity to bring in starting pitching. With this offense and bullpen, Christian Vazquez could make all of the difference to make this team a true contender. He can improve the pitching staff and give the team flexibility to make a move in a position of need.