Former Red Sox catcher has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Twins, as first reported by The New York Post’s Jon Heyman. The deal, which is pending a physical, comes with $30 million in guaranteed money, according to Twins Daily’s Ted Schwerzler.
Vazquez, 32, was Minnesota’s top free agent catching target, per The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman. The native Puerto Rican split the 2022 season between the Red Sox and Astros and batted .274/.315/.399 with 23 doubles, nine home runs, 52 RBIs, 41 runs scored, one stolen base, 22 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 119 games spanning 426 trips to the plate.
After the Red Sox picked up his $7 million club option last offseason, Vazquez opened the 2022 campaign as Boston’s No. 1 catcher. The right-handed hitter slashed a stout .282/.327/.432 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in his first 84 games (318 plate appearances) of the year before emerging as a trade candidate in late July.
On August 1, while they were already in Houston, the Red Sox dealt Vazquez to the Astros in exchange for prospects Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez. Abreu and Valdez spent the rest of the season in the minor-leagues and have since been added to Boston’s 40-man roster. Vazquez, on the other hand, split time behind the plate with fellow Puerto Rican Martin Maldonado and produced a meager .250/.278/.308 slash line in 35 regular season games (108 plate appearances) with the Astros.
During Houston’s run to its second World Series title in six seasons, Vazquez had some memorable moments. He caught 12 innings of scoreless baseball against the Mariners in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, caught nine more scoreless frames against the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, and then caught a combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series against the Phillies.
Vazquez reached free agency for the first time in his career last month. He drew interest from several teams, including the Cardinals, Cubs, and Red Sox. At last week’s winter meetings in San Diego, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom expressed interest in a reunion with the two-time World Series champion.
Instead of reuniting with the team he spent the first 14 years of his professional career with, though, Vazquez elected to sign with the Twins, who — like the Red Sox — make their spring training home in Fort Myers, Fla.
Vazquez, who does not turn 33 until next August, should provide Minnesota with a reliable veteran presence to pair alongside 25-year-old backstop Ryan Jeffers. In addition to what he does offensively, Vazquez has proven to be solid from behind the plate as well. This past season, the 5-foot-9, 205-pounder threw out 19 of 70 possible base stealers and accrued 11 defensive runs saved across 870 innings at catcher.
With Vazquez agreeing to sign elsewhere, the Red Sox will need to look in another direction if they intend on bolstering their catching depth this winter. As things stand now, Reese McGuire and Connor Wong are the only two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster. Last week, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reported that the Sox were “actively pursuing” backstops who could be had in free agency or via trade.
“There have been some talks. We’re in on the guys that we like,” Bloom said of the catching market when speaking with reporters (including Cotillo) in San Diego. “There’s some guys that we like but, forever reason, aren’t the right fits for us. We’re trying to be selective with who we pursue.”
(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Tim Warner/Getty Images)