Former Red Sox Right-Hander Hector Velazquez Claimed off Waivers by Orioles

Three days after he was designated for assignment, former Red Sox right-hander Hector Velazquez was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

The 31-year-old was initially designated in order for Boston to make room on their 40-man roster for fellow right-hander Collin McHugh, who they signed to a one-year deal on Thursday.

Velazquez had spent the previous three seasons with the Red Sox after his contract was purchased from the Mexican League’s Pirates de Campeche in February 2017.

Over those three years, Velazquez worked as both a starter and a reliever, posting a 3.90 ERA and 4.41 FIP over 89 appearances (19 starts) and 166 total innings pitched.

The native of Mexico served as an important member of the World Series-winning team in 2018, which has by far been his best season in the majors to this point, but he also experienced a great deal of struggle in 2019, a year in which he was shuttled between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket on several occasions.

Having brought on a plethora of pitching depth in Chaim Bloom’s first offseason as chief baseball officer, Velazquez probably became more and more expandable, and he ultimately lost his spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster spot late last week.

Of course, it is unfortunate that he was not able to sneak through waivers like Brian Johnson did last November, but it will be fascinating to see how Velazquez fares with a new organization.

#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.