#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.

 

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#RedSox Catcher Sandy Leon Accepts Assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket

After clearing waivers and being outrighted from the Red Sox’ 40-man roster on Tuesday, catcher Sandy Leon accepted his assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday. The club made the official announcement earlier.

Leon, 30, will now report to the PawSox and look to provide Boston with depth at the Triple-A level, which is something I would have to assume the team is happy about.

Since he remained in the organization through Opening Day, the backstop’s $2.475 million salary for 2019 is now guaranteed and will count towards Boston’s luxury tax.

Well respected by the Red Sox pitching staff, the possibility remains that Leon could be dealt if he impresses in the minors and another club feels the need to acquire a backup-caliber catcher.

Leon will join the likes of 29-year-old ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who signed a minor-league pact with Boston last November, down in Pawtucket.

Together, the pair have racked up exactly 1460 big league plate appearances since 2012, so they should provide some solid depth behind Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart and be solid injury fill-ins if necessary.

Sandy Leon Clears Waivers, Could Accept Minor League Assignment to Remain with #RedSox

After being placed on waivers by the Red Sox on Sunday, catcher Sandy Leon could remain with the organization following a 48-hour period in which he went unclaimed by other clubs.

Officially clearing waivers on Tuesday, Leon was then outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, meaning he is no longer on Boston’s 40-man roster.

The 30-year-old backstop now has an additional 48 hours to accept or reject that assignment to the PawSox.

If he chooses to reject it and thus becomes a free agent, then he will also be losing out on his $2.475 million salary for 2019, so as WEEI’s Evan Drellich notes, “it’s quite possible he remains in the Red Sox organization.”

On the other hands, if Leon accepts the assignment, then his 2019 salary will count towards Boston’s luxury tax.

As of this moment, the Red Sox currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster, so I’m assuming they have to add three more before Thursday.

#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.

 

Top Pitching Prospect Darwinzon Hernandez Optioned to Double-A Portland in Third Round of #RedSox Roster Cuts

With Opening Day just five days away, the Red Sox made their third round of roster cuts on Saturday, reassigning two players to minor league camp and optioning three to the minors.

Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and catcher Juan Centeno, both non-roster invites this spring, were the two reassigned to minor league camp. They will, however, remain with the big league club before they head off to Seattle.

Hernandez, 31, slashed .244/.279/.415 with two home runs and five RBI in 43 plate appearances this spring, while Centeno, 29, slashed .294/.368/.294 with three RBI in just 19 plate appearances. Both figure to start the 2019 season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

On the other side of things, the two surprising additions to Boston’s 2018 Opening Day roster did not make the club out of the gate this year, as left-hander Bobby Poyner and right-hander Marcus Walden were both optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Poyner, who is technically still a rookie, surrendered seven earned runs on 10 hits and three walks to go along with eight strikeouts over seven appearances and 9.2 total innings of work this spring.

Walden, meanwhile, had a much better time of things in his second spring with Boston, as he allowed four runs (two earned) on nine hits, four walks, and 13 strikeouts over seven appearances (one start) and 12.2 innings.

And finally, top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez was optioned to Double-A Portland.

The 22-year-old southpaw really impressed this spring, posting a miniscule 0.82 ERA over six outings (two starts) and 11 frames pitched.

Despite the rumblings that Hernandez could potentially make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster as reliever, the club ultimately made the decision not to rush things.

Now, the native of Venezuela will have the chance to develop more while in Portland as a starter, presumably.

Following Saturday’s transactions, the Red Sox’ active roster now stands at 30 players.

PITCHERS (13): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Nathan Eovaldi, Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, Hector Velázquez, Brandon Workman

CATCHERS (3): Sandy León, Blake Swihart, Christian Vázquez

INFIELDERS (10): Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Marco Hernández, Brock Holt, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Núñez, Steve Pearce, Dustin Pedroia, Sam Travis

OUTFIELDERS (4): Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez

Assuming that Hernandez and Pedroia start the season on the injured list, while Lin and Travis are optioned, and Leon is either traded or designated for assignment, the Red Sox’ 25-man Opening Day roster is essentially set.

#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.

Bryce Brentz and Sandy Leon Each Homer as #RedSox Fall to Twins 4-3

The Red Sox fell to 3-4 in Grapefruit League Play on Friday following a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex right down the road from JetBlue Park.

Josh Taylor got the start for Boston in this one and impressed with three scoreless innings in which the left-hander gave up no hits and just one walk while striking out three.

Taylor, 25, was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks last May as the player to be named later in the trade for Deven Marrero that took place in March. He was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November.

In relief of Taylor, Bobby Poyner, Domingo Tapia, Trevor Kelley, Dan Runzler, and Mark Montgomery combined to surrender all four runs the Twins scored on seven hits and five walks to go along with just two strikeouts over six innings of work. Not great.

Montgomery, who entered this contest with Boston leading 3-2 and left with them trailing by a run, was handed down both the loss and blown save. The right-hander gave up two Minnesota runs on two hits in the bottom half of the eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which featured Eduardo Nunez, Rafael Devers, and Michael Chavis to start things out, was matched up against ex-Yankee right-hander Michael Pineda.

Pineda, who missed all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery, held the Red Sox scoreless in his two innings of work.

In fact, the only offense Boston could produce all day came on two swings of the bat in the fourth and seventh innings of this one.

With old friend Addison Reed on the mound for the Twins in that fourth inning and Rafael Devers at second following a leadoff double, Sandy Leon put the Red Sox on the board with his first home run of the spring as the team’s catching competition looks to heat up.

Fast forward to the seventh, Bryce Brentz led things off himself by unloading on a pitch from Twins reliever Tyler Duffey and launching it to dead center.

I’m going to say it, I’m happy Bryce Brentz is back.

That homer put the Red Sox ahead again, but as I have already mentioned, they would go on to drop the second game of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup by a final score of 4-3.

One note from this loss:

Six games into his spring, Brentz is slashing .500/.571/1.167 with two home runs, two doubles, and three RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they host the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon in the annual Red Sox Foundation Game.

Brian Johnson will get the starting nod against Orioles right-hander Mike Wright Jr. Travis Lakins and Colten Brewer are also scheduled to pitch for Boston.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET at JetBlue Park. The game will be aired on NESN.