Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Released by Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher and top prospect Blake Swihart has been released by the Rangers, the club announced Tuesday.

Swihart, 28, originally signed a minor-league pact with Texas back in December after spending the first eight-plus years of his professional career with Boston.

Last April, the Red Sox designated Swihart, a former 2011 first-round draft pick, and dealt him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

The New Mexico native appeared in 30 games for Arizona from April 22 until May 31, going a measly 9-for-64 at the plate (.141) with three home runs and nine RBI before getting placed on the injured list with an oblique strain.

From there, Swihart was eventually activated from the IL on August 7, got into one game on August 11 against the Dodgers where he went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts off the bench, and was subsequently DFA’d a day later.

After clearing waivers and getting outrighted, the one-time University of Texas commit played 16 games and posted a .143/.234/.304 slash line for the DBacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno from the middle of August until the beginning of September. At that point, Swihart opted to become a free agent, leading to his joining the Rangers on a minor-league contract, as previously mentioned.

In his brief stint with Texas, Swihart had a decent spring training, going 5-for-16 at the plate with one home run and four RBI prior to the COVID-19-induced shutdown.

Assigned to the Rangers’ alternate training site last month, Swihart had been one of four non-roster backstops in Texas’ 60-man player pool.

Now a free agent for the second time in 11 months, Swihart will have the opportunity to sign wherever he so chooses depending on how much interest he garners on the open market.

Brewers Designate Former Red Sox Utiltyman Brock Holt for Assignment

The Brewers have designated former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt for assignment, the club announced Saturday.

After signing a one-year deal with Milwaukee back in February, Holt had gotten off to a tough start with his new club.

Through his first 16 games with the Brewers, the 32-year-old was 3-for-30 (.100) at the plate with one run scored and one RBI over 36 plate appearances while playing third base and both corner outfield positions.

Holt’s struggles thus far could be linked to the fact he sprained his ankle after stepping on a baseball before Opening Day. The Texas native has still been able to make a handful of fine defensive plays despite that ailment, but it was not enough to remain on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster moving forward.

As it goes with all players who get designated, Holt will either be claimed, traded, or clear waivers entirely within the next seven days. Because the former All-Star has more than three years of service time, he can reject an outright assignment and opt for free agency if he so chooses.

That possibility could open up a potential pathway for Holt to reunite with the Red Sox, the club he had spent the previous nine seasons with. Of course, that would likely only happen if he clears waivers and becomes a free agent, for I could not see Chaim Bloom and Co. using a 40-man roster spot on this version of Holt right now.

Red Sox Activate Darwinzon Herndandez From COVID-19 Related Injured List, Designate Christian Arroyo for Assignment

Before taking on the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, the Red Sox made yet another roster move, activating left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez from the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list and designating infielder Christian Arroyo for assignment.

Hernandez, 23, had been on the injured list since July 14 after testing positive for COVID-19 while at home in Venezuela.

Upon recovering from the virus, the southpaw reported to Fenway Park late last month for Summer Camp workouts and was subsequently shuttled down to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to continue to build up his stamina.

While in Pawtucket, Hernandez had been getting stretched out and most recently worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in an intrasquad game this past Sunday.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Hernandez will likely be used as a bulk-inning reliever first before a potential move to the starting rotation is made towards the later stages of the 2020 season.

Because Hernandez was not counted towards Boston’s 40-man roster while he was on the IL, the Red Sox needed to clear a roster spot in order to activate the young hurler, hence the move, albeit a surprising one, to designate Arroyo.

Arroyo, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians last Thursday, was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list himself on Wednesday and appeared as if he would make his Red Sox debut in this series against the Orioles.

That outlook has since changed though, and I would have to imagine the Sox would like to see the 25-year-old former top prospect slip through waivers. If not, Arroyo’s tenure with the Red Sox was certainly a short one.

With this transaction made, the Sox’ 60-man player pool is now at 59, so the club has one open slot to work with there. Pretty solid breakdown from The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch on that matter here:

Red Sox’ Jonathan Lucroy Clears Waivers, Gets Outrighted to Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket

Three days after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy cleared waivers and was subsequently outrighted to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket on Saturday.

Lucroy, 34, originally inked a minor-league deal with Boston back in February and was one of three backstops to make the club’s Opening Day roster late last month.

That being said, even despite enjoying a fair amount of success during spring training and Summer Camp, Lucroy got the short end of the stick in terms of playing time behind Christian Vazquez, as Kevin Plawecki emerged as the Sox’ true backup.

Prior to getting DFA’d, the two-time All-Star appeared in just one regular season game for Boston as a defensive replacement on Opening Day and never got an at-bat.

Now, after no other team put in a claim for him, Lucroy will remain with the Sox organization as serviceable roster depth at the catching position if he so chooses. Of course, seeing how he has accrued more than nine years of major-league service time, it would not shock me if Lucroy has the choice to become a free agent, either. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

For the time being, as the above tweet states, the Red Sox have 60 players in their 60-man club player pool.

Red Sox Claim Left-Hander Stephen Gonsalves off Waivers From Mets

The Red Sox have claimed left-hander Stephen Gonsalves off waivers from the New York Mets and optioned him to their alternative training site in Pawtucket, the club announced Saturday evening.

Gonsalves, who turned 26 earlier this month, was designated for assignment by the Mets on Thursday in order to open a spot on their 40-man roster.

A former top prospect of the Twins organization, Gonsalves last appeared in the majors in 2018, posting a 6.57 ERA and 5.71 FIP over seven appearances (four starts) and 24 2/3 total innings pitched for Minnesota.

In the minors, Gonsalves only made eight appearances between three different levels in 2019 as he was hampered by elbow issues or more specifically, a stress reaction in his left elbow/forearm.

The 2013 fourth-round draft pick out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego was let go by the Twins this past November before subsequently getting picked up by the Mets. Obviously, his tenure with New York only lasted a little more than eight months.

Per his Statcast page, Gonsalves operates with a four-seam fastball, a changeup, a cutter, and a slider. He will likely serve as rotation depth for Boston.

By adding Gonsalves, the Red Sox now have 38 players on their 40-man roster. Their player pool size has also reached maximum capacity at 60.

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.