#RedSox Acquire Minor League Outfielder Marcus Wilson from Arizona Diamondbacks in Exchange for Blake Swihart

Three days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have traded catcher/utility man Blake Swihart as well as international amateur signing bonus pool space to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league outfielder Marcus Wilson. Both clubs made the deal official Friday.

Swihart, 27, had been with the Red Sox organization since he was selected with the 26th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft.

With Arizona, Swihart will now join a team with some familiar faces in Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo, who were both with the Red Sox last.

Entering the 2019 season as Boston’s second catcher behind Christian Vazquez, the New Mexico native slashed .231/.310/.385 with one home run and four RBI over 29 plate appearances before being DFA’d this past week.

Since he could really never latch on to an everyday role while with the Red Sox, it would be nice to see if Swihart could become a more established player in the desert, where he’ll be closer to home.

On the other side of this deal, Marcus Wilson was a second round selection (69th overall pick) of the Dbacks out of Juniperra Serra High School in Gardena, Ca. back in 2014.

Listed at 6’3″ and 175 lbs. and ranked as Arizona’s 20th best prospect on MLB.com, the 22-year-outfielder slashed .235/.350/.529 to go along with two home runs and seven runs driven in 12 games this season with the Southern League’s Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks.

Now assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs, Wilson will join a crowded outfield consisting of names like Keith Curcio, Tate Matheny, Joseph Monge, Aneury Tavarez, and Luke Tendler up in Maine.

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#RedSox Designate Blake Swihart for Assignment

In a move that seemingly came out of nowhere, the Red Sox have reportedly designated catcher/utility man Blake Swihart for assignment, according to WEEI’s Evan Drellich.

Swihart, 27, just started behind the plate for Boston on Monday, where he went 0-for-2 with a walk. On the 2019 season as a whole, the backstop is slashing .231/.310/.385 with one home run and four RBI over 12 games played.

This transaction comes less than 24 hours after it was revealed that reliever Marcus Walden had been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, so as things stand right now, the Red Sox’ active roster sits at 23.

Among those 23 players remains just one catcher in Christian Vazquez, who actually looked solid in his first big league start at second base on Monday.

So, with that in mind, expect Sandy Leon’s contract to be purchased by the Red Sox in the coming hours.

After being designated for assignment himself and then accepting an assignment to the PawSox in March, Leon, 30, is just 3-for-25 with one walk and six strikeouts in seven minor league games this season.

As for Swihart, it was clear that he never had the full backing from the Red Sox from the start. He’ll likely be claimed by another club very soon given his talent level, and his playing days in Boston will come to a close.

It was a sad saga, really. Once touted as the top catching prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, to suffering a season-ending ankle injury as a left fielder back in 2016.

Before the start of this season, it looked as though Swihart was finally going to be able to showcase his catching capabilities in a larger role with Leon getting DFA’d. But, just a few weeks after making the club’s Opening Day roster as the second catcher behind Vazquez, the Red Sox have decided to move on.

This transaction will come with plenty of scrutiny, there’s no doubt about that. However, if Leon does make his return to Boston’s 25-man roster, then perhaps he can provide some stability to what has been a trying time for the Red Sox’ pitching staff so far this season.

 

Blake Swihart Celebrates Birthday with Home Run, Three Hits as #RedSox Snap Four-Game Skid in Oakland

After going the first two nights of April without a win or even a run scored, the Red Sox broke out in style in Oakland Wednesday night, putting an end to their four-game losing streak with a clutch 6-3 victory over the Athletics.

Making his second start of the season and second consecutive start against an American League West foe in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who entered Wednesday with three previous career starts at the Oakland Coliseum under his belt.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander was essentially in damage control all night, limiting the A’s to three runs on four hits, four walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.

Similar to his last outing against the Mariners, Eovaldi was a bit erratic yet again, but he was able to keep the ball in the ballpark for the most part, yielding just one two-run home run to Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano in the fourth inning.

After giving up that homer to Laureano though, which made it a 3-0 game in favor of Oakland at the time, the 29-year-old settled in a bit by retiring the final six hitters he faced through the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 96 (51 strikes) Eovaldi topped out at 98.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 35 times. His next start should come next Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen turned in yet another solid performance, as Colten Brewer, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to hold the A’s scoreless over the final four frames of this one.

Brewer, in his third appearance for Boston, fanned a pair over the sixth and parts of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes with one out to get in the inning.

Barnes, who we last saw close out the Red Sox’ first win of the season last Friday, punched out the only batter he faced in the seventh before stranding a runner at third in the eighth with the help of Brock Holt.

Holt, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, dazzled with a cross-body throw as his momentum was taking him towards third to get Laureano out at first. That kept Marcus Semien from scoring from third and thus kept this contest tied at three runs a piece headed into the ninth.

It officially goes down as a 6-3 ground out, but it was really much more than that from Holt, who did not start at shortstop during the spring.

After Boston jumped out to a three-run lead of their own in their half of the ninth, in came Ryan Brasier to shut the door on the A’s in the bottom half of the frame.

Making his third appearance out of the bullpen this season, the 31-year-old hurler worked his way around a leadoff HBP to sit down the final three hitters of the night, notching his first career save in the process.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Athletics right-hander Marco Estrada to start things out.

An old friend from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, the seasoned Estrada held the Boston bats in check up until the fifth.

With their scoreless-innings streak reaching 22, Blake Swihart broke the club’s offensive slump by launching his first home run of the season with two outs in the fifth.

A 415 foot shot to center field to put his team on the board for the first time this month, that is quite a way to celebrate a 27th birthday.

An inning later, a Mookie Betts leadoff walk would ultimately spell the end for Estrada, who was pulled after surrendering another free pass to JD Martinez to load the bases for Boston with just one out in the sixth.

With A’s reliever Ryan Buchter now in, Mitch Moreland did not waste any time with a pitcher he had only faced off against once before Wednesday, as he squared up on a first pitch fastball and ripped a double down the right field line.

That allowed Betts and Rafael Devers to score from second and third, and just like that, the Red Sox were back in it.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with things still tied and another old friend in Fernando Rodney now on the mound for Oakland, Swihart came to the plate having already collected two hits.

With just one out to work with, the Red Sox backstop singled on a ground ball to right, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by doing the same.

A wild pitch from Rodney allowed the pair of runners to advance to second and third, meaning the go-ahead run was only 90 feet away from scoring.

Mookie Betts, who was at the plate for that wild pitch, made the A’s pay for their mistake by turning a grounder that just so happened to deflect off the third base bag into a game-winning two-run double.

If that ball was hit to Matt Chapman, the inning presumably ends without a Red Sox crossing the plate.

Instead, the 2018 AL MVP came through big time, and Andrew Benintendi showed some signs of life by driving in Betts from second on an RBI triple to make it a 6-3 contest, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Happy belated 27th birthday to Blake Swihart!

JD Martinez has started his second season in Boston with a seven-game hitting streak. He is 10/28 with two home runs and seven RBI to kick off the 2019 campaign.

According to ESPN, the Red Sox bullpen has posted a 2.42 ERA over their first 26 innings of work. That is the fifth-best mark in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to depart from the Bay Area with a series-split against the A’s in hand.

It will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers for the series finale, as Eduardo Rodriguez and Brett Anderson are slated to start for their respective sides.

Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38 ERA), owns a 1.69 ERA in two career starts and 16 total innings of work at the Oakland Coliseum.

Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA), meanwhile, owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA over 11 career starts against the Red Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on this getaway day.

Blake Swihart Homers and Sam Travis Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Fall to Cubs in Spring Finale

The Red Sox wrapped up their spring on Tuesday afternoon with a 14-7 loss at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, meaning they failed to pick up a win in their brief two-game exhibition series in Mesa, Az. before heading north to Seattle for the real thing.

David Price, who we have not seen much of in the past few weeks, made just his second start of the spring in this one.

Pitching into the fourth inning, the left-hander surrendered five runs on six hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the day.

Retiring seven of the first eight hitters he faced, it looked as though things were going swimmingly for Price up until the bottom half of the third, when four straight Cubs hitters reached base, which in turn resulted in their first two runs crossing the plate.

An inning later, a two out solo home run off the bat of Kyle Schwarber would ultimately spell the end to Price’s day, as he would depart from this one following another run of three straight Cubs hits, capped off by an Addison Russell RBI double.

Facing 18 batters in total, Price’s next and first start of the regular season will come against the Oakland Athletics on Monday, April 1st.

From the middle of the bottom half of the fourth on, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Adam Lau, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Ryan Weber, and Durbin Feltman combined to give up a whopping 11 runs (10 earned) on nine hits, four walks, two HBPs, and seven punch outs over the final 4.1 frames.

Not great numbers, obviously. Hembree, Workman, and Lau were responsible for eight of those runs in a monster fifth inning for Chicago.

On a more positive note, Weber tossed a scoreless seventh inning, so there’s that.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Cubs right-hander Carl Edwards Jr., who typically pitches in a relief role, to start things off on Tuesday.

After failing to put anything on the board in their first two trips to the plate, Blake Swihart kicked off the scoring for Boston with a one out solo home run in the third inning off Massachusetts native Tim Collins, his first of the spring.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Sam Travis got his impressive day at the plate started by belting a line drive RBI double to left that allowed Eduardo Nunez to score all the way from first.

And later on in the eighth, after the first four Red Sox hitters had reached base to lead the inning off, including a Tate Matheny RBI single, Travis capped off his spring in exciting fashion, mashing a bases-clearing grand slam off Cubs reliever Ian Clarkin.

Granted, it ended up not making that huge a difference in the final score, but what a way for the 25-year-old Travis to head into his first ever big league Opening Day. Hard not to be excited for him.

Anyway, the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 14-7 to put the finishing touches on what turned out to be a 12-17-1 spring.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s Opening Day as well as opening weekend in Seattle. Here are the starting pitchers Alex Cora is going with for the first series of the 2019 season.

Game 1: LHP Chris Sale vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 1.93 ERA)
Game 3: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez vs. RHP Mike Leake
Game 4: RHP Rick Porcello vs. LHP Wade LeBlanc

First pitch Opening Day (March 28th) is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on ESPN.

It’s almost that time.

#RedSox Reportedly Place Sandy Leon on Waivers

According to WEEI’s Evan Drellich, the Red Sox have reportedly placed catcher Sandy Leon on waivers.

This news comes as not too big of a surprise, given the fact that Boston was looking to trade or move on from one of Leon, Christian Vazquez, or Blake Swihart since the beginning of the offseason due to them not wanting to carry three catchers on their Opening Day roster this year.

Leon, 30, was initially acquired from the Washington Nationals prior to the start of the 2015 of season in exchange for cash considerations.

In his four years with the Red Sox, the Venezuela native slashed .229/.289/.347 with 19 home runs and 99 RBI over 293 games and exactly 1000 plate appearances.

More recently, he went 7/30 with one home run and five RBI over 37 plate appearances this spring.

A well-respected member of the club and more specifically the pitching staff, Leon’s presence will surely be missed in the Boston clubhouse.

“No disrespect to any other catcher I’ve thrown to, but he’s the best catcher I’ve ever thrown to,” said Rick Porcello after a start in which he allowed one run over seven innings against the Philadelphia Phillies back in August.

“His game-calling, he’s prepared for every start, for every pitcher, starting or bullpen,” Porcello quipped. “He’s kind of the heartbeat of our pitching staff. We rely on him a lot. He’s always on point, he always knows what pitches to throw. Gives guys different looks. He’s as good as it gets as a game-caller and a catcher.”

Regardless of how the players felt, the higher-ups clearly valued Swihart and Vazquez over Leon. That much is evident by the rumors that Boston was shopping the ex-National in trade talks as recently as last week.

Set to earn $2.48 million in 2019, Leon will remain on waivers for the next 48 hours, where he will either be claimed or cleared and then have the choice to remain with the Red Sox organization at Triple-A Pawtucket or become a free agent.

On another note, Drellich also reports that the Red Sox have informed Swihart that he has indeed made the team.

 

Chris Sale Fans Six in Final Tune-Up Before Opening Day as #RedSox Top Pirates

The Red Sox improved to 12-15-1 in their Grapefruit League finale on Saturday afternoon, defeating the a split Pittsburgh Pirates squad by a final score of 12-3 for their fourth consecutive victory.

Making his final tune-up before the start of the regular season in this one was Chris Sale.

Fresh off inking a five-year, $145 million contract extension, the left-hander looked as sharp as ever on Saturday, holding the Pirates scoreless on just two hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

In total, Sale faced 16 hitters and needed 73 pitches to get through those five frames and fanned three straight to end his day on a positive note.

As you probably already know, Sale’s next start will come on Opening Day out in Seattle, Wa., two days before the hurler’s 30th birthday.

From the beginning of the sixth inning on, Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson combined to allow three Pirates runs to score on seven hits, a pair of walks, and six strikeouts themselves.

Hembree was the one responsible for all three of those runs, as he served up a one out, three-run home run to Pittsburgh’s second-ranked prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes, which at the time cut Boston’s lead to one run.

Overall, not a great showing from Hembree, but if there’s anything to salvage from this particular outing, it’s that he retired the final two hitters he faced in order after giving up the home run to put an end to the Pirates half of the sixth.

Johnson, meanwhile, had to work his away around a bases-loaded jam in the seventh before eventually settling in and punching out four in three innings en route to securing the blowout win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Pirates Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon to begin things on Saturday.

Similar to what they did against the Twins on Friday, the top of the lineup set the tone early, with Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, and JD Martinez all reaching base with one out in the first.

Martinez drove in the first Red Sox run of the afternoon on a shallow single to center field to plate Betts, while Xander Bogaerts followed that up by driving in Pedroia on an RBI sacrifice fly to left. And just like that, it was already 2-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Bogaerts was at it again, this time leading off the inning with a triple off Taillon.

He would come around to score on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI double moments later, and Bradley Jr. would himself come around to score from second on a Brock Holt RBI two-bagger. 4-0.

After the Pirates had cut into that four-run lead in their half of the sixth, the Boston bats would respond almost immediately, with both Blake Swihart and Bradley Jr. capitalizing on a Pittsburgh throwing error and scoring their team’s fifth and sixth runs of the afternoon.

And in eighth, Swihart would wind up being the catalyst of a six-run inning with a two out single.

Jantzen Witte, Joseph Monge, Chris Madera, and Aneury Tavarez all picked up RBI as the Red Sox wold go on to run away with this one, winning their last game of Grapefruit League play in 2019 by a final score of 12-3.

Some notes from this win:

Tzu-Wei Lin was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket following Saturday’s victory, meaning the Red Sox now have 29 players on their active roster. Sam Travis should be next.

Jackie Bradley Jr. finishes his 2019 Grapefruit League campaign with a .333/.409/.667 slash line, three home runs, and eight RBI in 39 spring at-bats.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head out west to Mesa, Arizona to take on the Chicago Cubs in a pair of exhibition games starting Monday, before the real thing begins.

Rick Porcello will get the ball Monday and both games will be on NESNplus and NESN, so stay tuned for that.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 9:05 PM EDT.

#RedSox Reportedly Shopping Sandy Leon

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney and Marly Rivera, the Red Sox are reportedly looking into trading catcher Sandy Leon as Opening Day looms.

Going into 2019, we knew that the club did not want to go into the season with three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did last year. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi made that much clear during the baseball winter meetings this past December.

Now, exactly one week before the new season begins, it appears that Leon may be the odd man out in Boston’s catching mix.

The recently turned 30-year-old backstop, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals for cash in March of 2015, is slashing .250/.382/.357 with one home run and five RBI in 14 games and 34 plate appearances this spring.

His competition for a spot on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster is Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.

Swihart, who is starting for Boston Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, has posted an .865 OPS in Grapefruit League play, while Vazquez has fared much worse with an OPS south of .300.

Now, Swihart would undoubtedly net the most return for the Red Sox in a potential trade. He may not be the best catcher of the trio, but he is the youngest and the most talented hitter of the group.

But, if the 26-year-old Swihart is the one who is poised to take over primary catching duties for the Red Sox, it would be interesting to see what the club could get in return for Leon, as well as what their plan for Christian Vazquez would be.

There’ll probably be more to come regarding this potential trade pretty soon, so stay tuned for that.