Former Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez agrees to three-year, $30 million deal with Twins, per report

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)

Red Sox add Enmanuel Valdez to 40-man roster, activate 5 players from 60-day injured list

UPDATE: The Red Sox have officially selected Valdez to the major-league roster. They also activated left-handers James Paxton, Chris Sale, and Josh Taylor, right-hander Tanner Houck, and first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero from the 60-day injured list.

The 40-man roster is now at 37 players.

The Red Sox will add versatile prospect Enmanuel Valdez to their 40-man roster on Thursday, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. The move prevents Valdez from reaching minor-league free agency.

Valdez, who turns 24 next month, was acquired from the Astros along with outfield prospect Wilyer Abreu in the August trade that sent catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston.

The Astros originally signed Valdez for $450,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015, so the San Juan de la Maguna native was eligible to become a minor-league free agent this winter after spending seven years in the minors.

At the time the trade was made, Valdez was batting .327/.410/.606 with 26 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs, 77 RBIs, 66 runs scored, five stolen bases, 45 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 82 games (378 plate appearances) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land to begin the 2022 season. Upon switching organizations for the first time in his career, the left-handed hitter proceeded to slash .237/.309/.422 with nine doubles, one triple, seven homers, 30 runs driven in, 26 runs scored, three stolen bases, 19 walks, and 48 strikeouts over 44 games (195 plate appearances) for Triple-A Worcester.

Defensively, Valdez saw the majority of his playing time with the WooSox come in the infield. The 5-foot-9, 191-pounder logged 330 innings at second base and 24 innings at third base. He also made three starts in left field and has one career start as a right fielder under his belt.

As things stand now, Valdez is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox will not have to make a corresponding move to add Valdez to their 40-man roster since it currently sits at 31 players.

Valdez has spent his offseason playing for the Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League. In 12 games with the club, he has gone just 6-for-32 (.188) at the plate with one extra-base hit, two RBIs, three runs scored, one walk, and nine strikeouts.

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox explore a trade for Padres catcher Austin Nola?

Could the Red Sox explore a trade for Padres catcher Austin Nola this offseason?

In Reese McGuire and Connor Wong, the Sox already have two big-league caliber catchers under club control for 2023. But that should not stop them from looking into external additions at the position. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) at the ongoing GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“It’s a hard spot to find one guy you can trust, much less more than one,” Bloom said. “In any given winter, there’s only a handful of players on the free agent market who you see as really good fits at that position. So the trade market is another avenue. I would say that we don’t think we’ll be looking at a huge group of possibilities there, but there are some possibilities through both avenues.”

According to Speier, the Sox “have cast a wide net in trade talks about catchers” over the last two years. They had conversations with the Athletics pertaining to Sean Murphy ahead of this year’s trade deadline that did not pan out. They “also have discussed other catchers who are heralded for their defense,” such as Nola.

Like Murphy, Nola is under team control for three more years. He is also nearly five years older than Murphy and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn significantly less than him in 2023. Murphy is slated to receive $3.5 million in his first year of arbitration while Nola is projected for $2.2 million.

Nola, who turns 33 in December, appeared in a career-high 110 games for the Padres this season. The right-handed hitter batted .251/.321/.329 with 15 doubles, four home runs, 40 RBIs, 40 runs scored, two stolen bases, 34 walks, and 60 strikeouts across 397 trips to the plate.

From behind the plate, Nola logged 834 2/3 innings at catcher and threw out eight of 64 base stealers. Among the 15 catchers who caught at least 800 innings, Nola ranked 13th in Defensive Runs Saved (-6), 14th in Catcher Framing (-8.3), and 14th in Defense (-5.2), per FanGraphs. While those metrics are not all that encouraging, the 6-foot, 197-pounder has proven to be a better defender in the past, especially when it comes to pitch framing.

Originally selected by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Louisiana State University, Nola initially came up through Miami’s farm system as a shortstop not begin catching at the professional level until he was in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

The Marlins outrighted and released Nola at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The Baton Rouge native then inked a minor-league deal with the Mariners and finally made his major-league debut in 2019 at the age of 27. The following August, Nola was dealt to the Padres in a trade that involved six other players.

After an array of injuries limited him to just 56 games in his first full season with San Diego, Nola emerged as the Padres’ starting catcher in 2022 thanks in part to the way he handled their pitching staff in a run to the National League Championship Series.

The Padres ultimately came up short against Nola’s younger brother, Aaron, and the rest of the Phillies. Under the direction of president of baseball operations A.J. Preller, the Friars could elect to shake things up at catcher this winter.

In addition to Nola, San Diego has two other major-league caliber catchers on its roster in Jorge Alfaro and Luis Campusano. Alfaro posted a .667 OPS this season and is a non-tender candidate. Campusano, on the other hand, was ranked by Baseball America as the sport’s No. 53 prospect coming into the 2022 season. But the 24-year-old only received 48 at-bats this season, so the Padres may feel like it is time to give him an extended look beginning next spring.

From the Red Sox’ end, it would likely not take much to pry Nola away from the Padres as far as prospect capital is concerned. Nola himself represents an inexpensive addition at catcher who could platoon with the left-handed hitting McGuire if Wong winds up being the odd man out.

When it comes to what the Red Sox are looking from out of their catchers next year, Bloom emphasized the importance of handling a pitching staff.

“Now, that doesn’t mean there’s only one way to get value at the position, but it’s certainly something we value,” he said. “And I think we have a staff that can really take advantage of somebody who’s invested in that aspect of the game, specifically with [catching instructor Jason Varitek].”

Nola represents just one direction Bloom and Co. could lean if they intend on adding another catcher to the mix this winter. While Murphy is the top trade target, the Sox could also pursue the likes of Wilson Contreras, Mike Zunino, Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez, or even old friend Christian Vazquez in free agency.

(Picture of Austin Nola: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Red Sox need to add Enmanuel Valdez to 40-man roster this month in order to prevent him from reaching free agency

Enmanuel Valdez is eligible to become a minor-league free agent this offseason. The Red Sox, therefore, have until five days following the conclusion of the World Series to add the versatile 23-year-old to their 40-man roster in order to prevent him from hitting the open market.

Boston acquired Valdez and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu from the Astros in the August trade that sent veteran catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston. Both players can become eligible for December’s Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in the coming weeks.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox could elect to re-sign Valdez to a minor-league contract. But that would still leave him (and Abreu) exposed to the Rule 5 Draft if they were not added to the 40-man prior to the November deadline.

In 2016, the Red Sox saw Josh Rutledge leave for the Rockies via minor-league free agency. They then re-acquired Rutledge by selecting him from Colorado in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The following year, they added Bryce Brentz to the 40-man roster after the 2017 World Series in order to block him from reaching minor-league free agency. These are just a few past examples provided by Smith.

Valdez, who turns 24 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The native Dominican originally signed with Houston for $450,000 as an international free agent coming out San Juan de la Maguna in July 2015.

At the time the three-player trade between the Red Sox and Astros was made this summer, Valdez was batting .327/.410/.606 with 26 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs, 77 RBIs, 66 runs scored, five stolen bases, 45 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 82 games (378 plate appearances) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land.

Upon switching organizations for the first time in his career, the left-handed hitter proceeded to slash .237/.309/.422 with nine doubles, one triple, seven homers, 30 runs driven in, 26 runs scored, three stolen bases, 19 walks, and 48 strikeouts over 44 games (195 plate appearances) for Triple-A Worcester.

Though his production dropped off with the WooSox, Valdez still posted a 131 wRC+ on the 2022 season as a whole and was named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Year as a result.

Defensively, Valdez saw the majority of his playing time in Worcester come in left field. The 5-foot-9, 191-pounder logged 330 innings at the keystone and 24 innings at third. He also made three starts in left field and has limited experience in right field as well.

Given that he is only one promotion away from the big-leagues, it seems unlikely that the Red Sox would risk losing Valdez this winter and will instead add him to their 40-man roster sooner rather than later. It is also worth mentioning that, after outrighting Tyler Danish on Monday, Boston currently has 39 players on its 40-man roster. Perhaps that spot will go to Valdez.

In the meantime, Valdez has been playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. Coming into play on Tuesday, he has gone 6-for-28 (.214) with one double, two RBIs, three runs scored, one walk, and six strikeouts in nine games with the Toros del Este.

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández could receive fourth minor-league option next season

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez was called up from Triple-A Worcester on two separate occasions this season, yet he never got into a game and has yet to make his major-league debut.

Instead, Hernandez spent one day on the big-league roster in late April after Christian Vazquez was briefly placed on the COVID-19 related injured list. He then spent an additional day with the club in early August after Vazquez was traded to the Astros. But he was quickly optioned following the acquisition of Reese McGuire from the White Sox.

When Worcester’s season ended in late September, Hernandez made the trek to Boston and was added to the Red Sox’ taxi squad for their final road trip of the year in Toronto.

Despite not making his impact felt in the majors this season, Hernandez still enjoyed a relatively productive year at the plate in Worcester. The right-handed hitting backstop batted .261/.297/.451 with 27 doubles, 17 home runs, 63 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 21 walks, and 92 strikeouts in 105 games (439 plate appearances) with the WooSox.

From behind the plate, Hernandez logged 577 1/3 innings and threw out 16 of 65 possible base stealers. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder out of Colombia also allowed 13 passed balls and committed six errors.

Hernandez, who turns 25 next month, was originally acquired from the Rays with minor-league infielder Nick Sogard in a February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay.

At that time, Hernandez was already a member of the Rays’ 40-man roster after being added in November 2019. His status did not change after being traded, so he has used minor-league options in each of the last three seasons.

Under normal circumstances, players typically receive three minor-league options. As MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith reported earlier this month, though, Hernandez — who did not play above rookie ball until 2018 — is expected to be eligible for a fourth option next year since “he has fewer than five full seasons of pro ball while using three options.”

If Hernandez receives a fourth option like the Red Sox expect him to , they would once again be able to send him to Worcester next season to continue to develop and provide depth. Without that option, Hernandez would need to make Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training if the club did not want to trade him or expose him to waivers.

“The main goal is to be here in the big-leagues,” Hernandez told Smith (through interpreter Carlos Villoria Benítez) last weekend. “If they have that option next year, that’s fine. That’s not a big deal for me. My main goal is to keep improving every day and try to be better so I can make it to the big-leagues and stay here. So my focus doesn’t change whether I have the extra option or not.”

Beyond Hernandez, McGuire and Connor Wong are the only other catchers on the Sox’ 40-man roster. During the team’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park on Thursday, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated that catcher would be one position group the Red Sox explore making external additions at over the winter.

“This is one of the areas I fully expect that we’re going to explore additions,” Bloom said. “It’s nice to know that we have two guys that are familiar with how we do things, that showed a lot of good things. But we owe it to ourselves and everybody who cares about this team to look to get better and catcher is certainly not going to be an exception to that.”

McGuire and Wong split time behind the plate for the Sox after Vazquez was traded in August and Kevin Plawecki was designated for assignment in late September. Even though they were out of it at that point, Hernandez never received a promotion. As noted by Smith, this reflects that the Red Sox “still feel like he has improvements to make and he’s not in the immediate plans for 2023. ”

Depending on how the offseason plays out, however, Hernandez could solidify his case for an Opening Day roster spot if he is able to impress club officials and put together a strong showing in spring training.

“Obviously, if I can make the team and stay here with Boston, it would be great,” said Hernandez. “That’s what I’m working for. But I can’t focus on things that I can’t control. I’m going to work hard this offseason. I’m going to work hard and improve in all the aspects of my game and we’ll see what happens in spring training. But I’m confident that my skillsets will be good enough to play in the big-leagues.

“And hopefully, it’s with the Red Sox,” he added. “But we’ll see what happens. I can’t control the decisions they are going to make. But the things I can control, which is preparing for next season and preparing to be ready for spring training, that’s what I’ll do.”

Hernandez told Smith that if the Red Sox were to go in a different direction, there would be “a lot of options and a lot of opportunities out there with other organizations.

“I know the type of player that I am,” he said. “I know what I can do. And that’s why I’m not too worried about what’s going to happen in the future.”

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Enmanuel Valdez takes home International League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of August 29-September 4, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In Triple-A Worcester’s last series against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park, Valdez appeared in all six games and went 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and four strikeouts. He finished a single shy of the cycle on Sunday.

Since making his WooSox debut on Aug. 3, Valdez has batted .236/.325/.500 (114 wRC+) to go along with six doubles, one triple, seven homers, 27 runs driven in, 22 runs scored, two stolen bases, 15 walks, and 31 strikeouts over 28 games (127 plate appearances). Among those in the International League who have made at least 120 trips to the plate this season, the left-handed hitter ranks 51st in slugging percentage and 16th in isolated power (.264), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Valdez has seen playing time at three different positions in his time with the WooSox. After starting at second base on Sunday, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder has logged 213 innings at second, 15 innings at third, and 17 innings in left field.

Valdez, 23, was originally signed by the Astros for $450,000 as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The Red Sox acquired the San Juan de la Maguana native and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu from Houston in exchange for catcher Christian Vazquez ahead of last month’s trade deadline.

Now, Valdez is regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The publication describes him as “a bat-first infielder with a good combination of power and contact.” While there are some defensive concerns, he is “a tough out that grinds out at-bats, can hit for contact and punish mistakes.”

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, can become eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline. Unlike Eddinson Paulino, who has yet to play above Low-A, Valdez seems like more of a lock to be added given his experience and level of production at Triple-A.

“If he were going to get called up tomorrow, I think his ability to play [multiple] positions would be very valuable for a major-league clubhouse and a major-league bench,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Valdez in a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “He can play infield. He can play a corner (outfield) spot. And he can run into baseballs with power. So, I think the skillset lends itself really well to being an impactful major-league player. We’ve seen athleticism, and we’ve seen some areas that can be improved upon. I know our Triple-A staff already feel they’ve made some strides ins some of the smaller motor learning skills that he can improve upon while being in the infield, whether that be first-step quickness or the way he moves from left to right. And same thing in the outfield, some of the first step and quickness, I think he’s shown improvement on.”

“But, I think we’ve got a twitchy guy who has power, who drives the baseball, and the better he’s able to have an understanding of the strike zone and what he needs to do to consistently drive the baseball to all fields will allow him to be more impactful,” added Abraham. “But I think in a lot of ways he’s someone who’s incredibly unique, who can do all of those things (that profile well as a utility man) and still be someone who can play one position and play there for a consistent amount of time. I think that’s incredibly valuable these days. As we know, our Major League team has a bunch of those guys, our Triple-A team has a bunch of those guys. Getting yourself in the lineup to make an impact is really important.”

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Wilyer Abreu homers for first time since being acquired from Astros

Wilyer Abreu hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox organization on Sunday afternoon. It came in the third inning of Double-A Portland’s 4-1 win over the Hartford Yard Goats at Hadlock Field.

Following Sunday’s 1-for-3 performance in which he also drew a walk, Abreu is now batting .205/.341/.288 with three doubles, the one homer, seven RBIs, 11 runs scored, two stolen bases, 16 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 23 games (91 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs.

While those numbers do not stand out by any means, Abreu appears to be showing some signs of life at the plate lately. In his last five games, for the instance, the left-handed hitting outfielder has gone 4-for-15 (.267) with an on-base percentage of .400 and wRC+ of 136.

On the other side of the ball, Abreu made his fifth start in center field for Portland on Sunday. All together, the 6-foot, 217-pounder has logged 61 innings in center, 71 innings in left, and 56 innings in right since joining the Sea Dogs earlier this month.

The Red Sox acquired Abreu and fellow prospect Enmanuel Valdez from the Astros in exchange for catcher and free-agent-to-be Christian Vazquez on August 1. While Valdez was assigned to Triple-A Worcester out of the gate, Abreu has spent the entirety of his organizational tenure to this point in Portland.

Abreu, 23, originally signed with the Astros for $300,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 27. At the time of the trade, the Maracaibo native was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 21 prospect in Houston’s farm system. He is now ranked by the publication as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Interestingly enough, Abreu was supposed to sign with the Red Sox as a 17-year-old in 2016. He had already established a relationship with assistant general manager Eddie Romero, but Boston was banned from signing international prospects during the 2016-17 period after breaking signing bonus rules the year before.

“I was supposed to sign here with the Red Sox in 2016,” said Abreu, who added that Romero was one of the first people to call him after the trade was made in a recent conversation with MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

“I love it,” Abreu said of joining the Red Sox organization. “It’s a new team. A lot of guys who have a good makeup. And I like this city (Portland) because of the weather. I love the weather.”

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Abreu is “an extremely patient hitter with a discerning eye at the plate, leading to high walk totals and some strikeouts due to passivity. Overall it’s high level swing decisions with above-average game power. He has enough bat-to-ball skills to avoid the three-true-outcome label, but his average will fluctuate due to his flyball heavy approach.

“Defensively he can handle centerfield and tests highly on the Astros internal athleticism measurements. He has an unusual build as he’s a bigger bodied player for centerfield, but he has the ability to hit and provide versatility in the outfield.”

Abreu, who does not turn 24 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. It remains to be seen if that will happen. In the meantime, a late-season promotion so that Abreu can join Valdez in Worcester certainly cannot be ruled out.

(Picture of Wilyer Abreu: Christopher Smith/MassLive)

Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez off to encouraging start with new organization

Recently-acquired prospect Enmanuel Valdez has gotten his tenure in the Red Sox organization off to a strong start.

In Triple-A Worcester’s 6-5 loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in Moosic, Pa. on Sunday, Valdez went 1 for 4 with a two-run single while batting third and starting at second base.

Since joining the WooSox earlier this month, the left-handed hitter has batted a stout .297/.372/.649 with one double, four home runs, 15 RBIs, nine runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and nine strikeouts over 10 games (44 plate appearances). Two of those homers came in the same game this past Friday.

Valdez, 23, was one of two prospects (the other being Wilyer Abreu) the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the trade that sent veteran catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston on August 1.

Now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Valdez originally signed with the Astros as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The San Juan de la Maguana native began the 2022 season with Houston’s Double-A affiliate before earning a promotion to Triple-A Sugar Land in early June.

Between the Space Cowboys and WooSox, Valdez has slashed .296/.352/.577 to go along with 26 extra-base hits (14 homers), 47 runs driven in, 35 runs scored, two stolen bases, 16 walks, and 38 strikeouts across 48 games (217 plate appearances) at the Triple-A level.

Defensively, Valdez was initially signed as a shortstop seven years ago but has since proven capable of moving all across the field. Already with the WooSox, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder has logged 70 innings at second base, nine innings at third base, and eight innings in left field. He also has experience at first base, shortstop, and in right field.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Valdez is “a bat-first infielder with a good combination of power and contact but major defensive questions.” He “has a bat-first second base profile with a lot of offensive skills to believe in.”

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline if they wish to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Rick Cinclair/Telegram & Gazette /USA TODAY NETWORK)

Red Sox explored possibility of acquiring Athletics catcher Sean Murphy before last week’s trade deadline, per report

Before the trade deadline passed last week, the Red Sox reportedly explored the possibility of trading for Athletics catcher Sean Murphy, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

This past Monday, Speier wrote that the Red Sox discussed “dealing prospects for players who would be under team control for the longer haul.” Murphy was among the players Boston targeted, though they ultimately could not find a match.

Murphy, 27, is under club control with the Athletics through the end of the 2025 campaign and emerged as one of baseball’s top catchers in recent years. Through 101 games this season, the right-handed hitting backstop has batted .242/.316/.424 with 26 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, 46 runs scored, one stolen base, 33 walks, and 88 strikeouts over 415 plate appearances.

From behind the plate, Murphy has thrown out 13 of a possible 43 base stealers. The 6-foot-3, 228-pounder currently ranks fifth among all big-league catchers in fWAR (3.0), per FanGraphs. He is also well-regarded when it comes to pop time and framing.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the A’s are in the midst of a lengthy rebuild and have traded away key players such as Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas, and Lou Trivino in recent months. The expectation seems to be that Murphy, who turns 28 in October, will be the next big-leaguer moved since Oakland’s top two prospects — Shea Langeliers and Tyler Soderstrom are both catchers.

Cotillo opines that Murphy will draw strong interest from catcher-needy clubs this winter. Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes reported last week that the Guardians were among the several teams interested in Murphy ahead of the trade deadline and could open up talks with the Athletics again this off-season.

That the Red Sox were in the market for a frontline catcher is certainly interesting when you consider that they just traded Christian Vazquez to the Astros for a pair of prospects in Enmanuel Valdez and Wilyer Abreu.

Even before trading away Vazquez, though, Boston was expected to bolster its catching depth this winter since both Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki are slated to become free-agents. Reese McGuire, who was acquired from the White Sox, is under club control through the 2025 but is more of a backup-type. The same can be said for prospects Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez, who are having solid seasons with Triple-A Worcester but remain unproven at the major-league level.

Murphy, who took home the Gold Glove Award for American League catchers last season, would represent quite the upgrade in that department. At the same time, it would likely take a package of top prospects and/or major-league-ready talent to pry Murphy away from Oakland since the former third-round pick is not eligible for free agency for another three years.

(Picture of Sean Murphy: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Christian Vázquez to Astros for prospects Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu

The Red Sox have traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros for minor-leaguers Enmanuel Valdez and Wilyer Abreu, the club announced Monday night.

Vazquez, who was with the Red Sox in Houston ahead of their series against the Astros, was informed of the trade while taking batting practice at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon. So he only had to walk across the field to join his new team.

Originally selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2008 amateur draft, Vazquez had been the longest-tenured player in the organization. The native Puerto Rican was in the final year of his contract after having his $7 million club option picked up back in November.

Given that Vazquez was slated to become a free-agent for the first time in his career this winter, the Red Sox elected to deal the 31-year-old backstop to the Astros for a pair of prospects.

Coming into play on Monday, Vazquez was batting a stout .282/.327/.432 with 20 doubles, eight home runs, 42 RBIs, 33 runs scored, one stolen base, 18 walks, and 51 strikeouts over 84 games (318 plate appearances) this season. Among American League catchers who have made at least 100 trips to the plate, the right-handed hitter ranks third in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, and eighth in wRC+ (111), per FanGraphs.

From behind the plate, Vazquez has thrown out 16 of a possible 53 base stealers while putting up five defensive runs saved over 643 1/3 innings. He has also seen some playing time at first and second base.

As for who the Red Sox are getting back in exchange for Vazquez, Valdez was regarded by Baseball America as the Astros’ No. 12 prospect while Abreu was regarded as their No. 21 prospect.

Valdez, 23, originally signed with Houston as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The left-handed hitter has slashed .327/.410/.606 with with 21 homers, 77 RBIs, 66 runs scored, and five stolen bases over 82 games (378 plate appearances) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land. He has played first base, second base, left field, and right field this year.

Abreu, also 23, signed with Houston as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2017. The left-handed hitter has spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with Corpus Christi, batting .249/.399/.459 with 15 home runs, 54 RBIs, 81 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases across 89 games spanning 411 trips to the plate. He has seen playing time at all three outfield positions.

In the wake of trading Vazquez to Houston, the Red Sox have recalled catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester. Hernandez will serve as Boston’s No. 2 catcher behind Kevin Plawecki before the newly-acquired Reese McGuire joins the team.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)