It’s a question that has confronted the Red Sox front office since both players reached the highest levels of the minors. Christian Vázquez, 25, and Blake Swihart, 24. Who is the catcher you move forward with?
I’m going to throw my two cents in, and my two cents are with Vázquez. It’s well documented how he’s a defensive wizard, while Swihart’s strength lies in the box. This is truly a great problem for Boston to have, but at some point, you have to have a direction. Otherwise, your prospects aren’t prospects anymore and you lose value. It happened with Brandon Moss, it happened with Ryan Lavarnway, and it happened with Lars Anderson – they’re guys that didn’t necessarily translate well with the Red Sox despite the fact that they were highly regarded, they waited too long to make them a regular part of the major league ballclub, and they moved them for less than what they could’ve.
I’m not suggesting that Swihart is going to be a bust. I’m just saying that his bat is why he’s been highly regarded. Supposedly, he’s a plus hitter on both sides of the plate. I don’t consider .270-ish to be a ‘plus prospect’, especially if you are average to above-average defensively speaking. At this point, in Pawtucket, he’s not helping the Red Sox win now, which is the position that they’ve put themselves in.
Vázquez has hit 39 points less than Swihart in 129 less at-bats. He has 4 less home runs. There’s definitely a drop off offensively speaking, but when you consider that Vázquez is literally already a top-five defensive backstop in the MLB right now, coupled with the fact that he is exceptional at calling a veteran staff with only 64 career games, I see the advantage with #7. He’s a leader, he’s respected, and I think he’s trusted more than Swihart is.
I could be very wrong – Swihart might become the next perennial All-Star, while Vázquez might never consistently hit above the Mendoza line. But the only think that Vázquez has to do is hit between .200 and .250 for his value to be equal, if not greater, to Swihart’s. He makes the Red Sox better today, and he will make the Red Sox better moving forward. It’s Vázquez that brings the Sox the best mix of win this season and win moving forward. I don’t think that, at least as a catcher, Swihart has done that. I’d explore moving Swihart for a pitcher that can help Boston win this year, or maybe explore transitioning him to first base so Hanley Ramirez (who has SHOCKED me defensively thus far, much better than I could’ve anticipated, hats off to him and how hard he’s worked) can move to DH.
But enough about my opinion, I’m not afraid to admit I’m wrong just as much, if not more, than most. Red Sox fans, baseball fans, what do you think? Vázquez or Swihart? Would you rather have an exceptional defensive or offensive catcher? Comment below or on FanTalk, I’m curious what you guys think.
Cover Photo from MassLive