#RedSox Catcher Christian Vazquez Considered ‘Someone Teams Could Make a Run at’ in Trade Talks

In his weekly column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo pointed out that teams looking for a backstop may have interest in the Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez now that JT Realmuto is off the board and a Philadelphia Phillie.

Teams Cafardo listed as potential Vazquez suitors were also teams that missed out on Realmuto,  including the Braves, Dodgers, Padres, and Reds.

Now, Vazquez and Realmuto aren’t exactly on the same level in terms of what they bring to the table both at and behind the plate, but Vazquez’s defensive prowess is no joke.

It’s been made pretty much abundantly clear that the Red Sox aren’t planning on carrying three catchers on their 25-man roster in 2019, and with Vazquez due to make $2.85 million, the most of any Boston catcher, this coming season, moving on makes sense, especially when you consider what Leon and Swihart can still provide.

Fresh off signing a three-year contract extension last spring training, the 28-year-old struggled immensely at the plate, slashing a career-worst .207/.257/.283 with three home runs and 16 RBI in just 80 games played in 2018. He also missed a significant amount of time with a fifth finger fracture in his right hand.

To add to the conversation, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday that he feels comfortable with the minor league depth the club has at catcher with this inevitable trade coming, which starts with ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who Boston signed to a minor league deal last November.

“We’re good,” Cora said. “I had Juan in Houston in 2017. He was part of the playoff roster. So I’m comfortable.”

All three of Centeno, Cora, and Vazquez are natives of Puerto Rico for what it’s worth.

Although Vazquez’s future with the Red Sox is cloudy at this point in time, the same can certainly be said for Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon. The competition between the three of them should really be something to watch these next few weeks.

As for what Dave Dombrowski would want in return for one of the three backstops available via trade, I would venture to say it’s either going to be a middle innings reliever or back-end starter. The possibility that the Red Sox acquire prospects to improve their farm system, like Cafardo says above, is there as well.

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Dustin Pedroia Would Not Have Undergone Knee Surgery in 2017 If He Knew What He Knows Now.

When speaking with reporters at JetBlue Park on Friday, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia revealed that if he knew what he does now, he would not have opted to have surgery done on his left knee in the 2017 offseason.

No, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I don’t regret doing it, but looking back and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Now 35, Pedroia appeared in just three games for Boston this past season following a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee two October’s ago.

According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, “the surgery involved grafting cartilage from a cadaver into Pedroia’s knee. He also had microfracture surgery on his tibia at the same time.”

That held the long time infielder out for approximately seven months until he began a rehab stint with Triple A Pawtucket on May 14th.

Less than two weeks later, Pedroia was back up with the Red Sox, batting sixth in a May 26th contest against the Atlanta Braves.

A las, three games and 13 plate appearances into his 2018 season, Pedroia was on the shelf yet again, eventually being placed on the 10-day injured list on June 2nd with left knee inflammation.

In late July, Pedroia went under the knife once more to remove scar tissue from that same knee and has since been rehabbing as spring workouts begin.

It’s been a complicated year-and-a-half for Pedroia, but now the Arizona native is pushing to make Boston’s 2019 Opening Day lineup, and more importantly, bat leadoff, a promise made by Red Sox manager Alex Cora in November.

“I appreciate him doing that,” Pedroia said. “He better not give me too many days hitting leadoff, I might stay there. But I appreciate that. These guys have seen how hard I’ve worked and what I’m trying to get back from. To give me that opportunity would be cool.”

Since making his debut in 2006, Pedroia has played 1,506 games in a Red Sox uniform, good for 11th most in franchise history. He’s under contract through 2021.

#RedSox Reportedly Seeking Rotation Depth in Catcher Trade Talks as Spring Training Begins.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Boston Red Sox are in search of some starting rotation depth. In order to do this, McAdam reports, the club is making any three of their big league catchers available via trade.

Now, this should not come as that large of a surprise, especially since president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi said in January that Boston would like to carry only two catchers on their Opening Day roster this season.

What may be surprising here is that Dombrowksi may be looking to shore up the back-end of the Red Sox starting rotation while the bullpen remains the biggest question mark for this club.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox’ starting five will more than likely consist of Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez in 2019. That’s already one of the better rotations in the American League if everyone stays healthy.

Even without the addition of a trade piece, hurlers such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and Steven Wright, when healthy, are more than capable of both pitching out of the bullpen and filling in for a spot start when needed.

So, these rumors are certainly not coming out of nowhere, but when the time comes and one of Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, or Sandy Leon is dealt, I, for one, would be surprised if the Red Sox receive a back-end starting pitcher instead of a reliever in return for one of their backstops.

One Burning Question for Each #RedSox Position Group Headed into Spring Training.

The Red Sox are set to kick off their spring workouts this coming week beginning with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

The blueprint for attempting to repeat as World Series champions will be created over the next month and a half before the club hits the road for an 11-game west coast road trip to kick off their 2019 campaign.

There are obviously many components involved in this process, so I went ahead and composed a handful of questions pertaining to each Red Sox position group.

Starting pitchers – Will Chris Sale be able to stay healthy for a full season?

Chris Sale dealt with numerous throwing shoulder issues in 2018, limiting him to 27 starts in the regular season and just 15.1 innings pitched in the postseason. Still, the left-hander posted a 2.11 ERA, averaged 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and finished top five in American League Cy Young voting for the sixth consecutive year. Not to mention he recorded the final out of the World Series as well.

So, heading into the final year of his contract before hitting free agency, the spotlight will be on Sale to see if he can sustain his typical success over the course of a full season’s workload. Without a doubt, it’s going to be an important season for the Florida native. How he holds up may just dictate who comes out on top in a competitive American League East.

Relief pitchers – Who will serve as the Red Sox’ closer in 2019?

Speaking of pitching, it seems as though Dave Dombrowski is comfortable with the idea of either Matt Barnes or Ryan Brasier serving as the Red Sox’ closer to at least begin the 2019 season.

That in mind, the best relief pitcher on the market who just so happens to have spent the last three seasons in a Red Sox uniform is still available.

Given how this winter’s free agency has panned out, I’ve grown more and more content with the thought of the Red Sox offering Craig Kimbrel a one-year deal for the 2019 season with a value similar to that of the qualifying offer the flame-throwing closer declined in November.

I have a feeling the soon to be 31-year-old Kimbrel would prefer a multi-year deal, but whether it be Barnes, Brasier, or Kimbrel manning the ninth inning for Boston in 2019, the bullpen is surely far from perfect and will more than likely be the club’s weakest link.

Catchers – Which Red Sox catcher, if any, will get traded before Opening Day?

It’s been reported this winter that the Red Sox would prefer not to carry three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did for parts of the 2018 season heading into the 2019 campaign.

Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Sandy Leon may all be available via trade as Opening Day looms, but who has the best case to be moved?

Swihart, for starters, is the most appealing option in this scenario.

Turning 27 in April, the former top prospect’s big league career has not exactly panned out the way many envisioned it would when he made his debut with Boston in 2015.

This past season, Swihart was limited to just 207 plate appearances in an extremely limted role with the club, slashing .229/.285/.328 with three home runs and 18 RBI over that span.

Still, the Texas native is viewed by many as Boston’s most appealing backstop. Red Sox manager Alex Cora even said, “I want to see Blake catching more. I’ll give him a chance to,” back at the Baseball Winter Meetings in December.

With Leon and Vazquez in the mix as well, the Red Sox’ catching competition will definitely be something worth paying attention to over the course of the spring.

Infielders – Is Rafael Devers poised for a breakout in 2019?

The second year third baseman blew everyone away with his consistently clutch play this past October as he collected nine RBI in all three postseason series combined, with three of those coming on a game-sealing three-run home run off of Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALCS.

But in his first full regular season with Boston, the 22-year-old posted a below average 94 OPS+, committed 24 errors manning the hot corner, and even struggled to find playing time at different points throughout the year.

So, heading into the 2019 season, what should be expected of Devers? The pressure will certainly be on with Eduardo Nunez proving to be a capable third baseman when healthy, and the Red Sox have prospects such as Michael Chavis Bobby Dalbec looming in the minor leagues as well.

If this picture is evident of anything…

…then I fully expect the Dominican Republic native to get to somewhere close to 30-35 home runs this year to go along with a slugging percentage north of .490. One of the more interesting breakout candidates to watch for on this club.

Outfielders – Can Jackie Bradley Jr. put together a consistently solid season at the plate?

Finally, Red Sox fans all know Jackie Bradley Jr. is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the American League, that much has proven thanks to his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2018.

What people want to see are consistent at bats from the 28-year-old outfielder.

In the second half of last season, Bradley Jr. slashed .269/.340/.487 with seven home runs and 27 runs driven in. Pretty solid numbers over a span of 58 games.

If the South Carolina native could put those type of numbers together for the length of a full season in 2019, then I think it’s safe to say that the Red Sox will have the best outfield in baseball.

All pictures courtesy of Billie Weiss.

David Price Changes #RedSox Uniform Number from No. 24 to No. 10.

On yet another slow day in the baseball offseason, The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham came through with an interesting tweet Thursday afternoon regarding Red Sox uniform numbers for 2019, with the most significant number change coming from David Price.

That’s right, after spending his first three seasons in Boston rocking No. 24, the left-hander has apparently made the switch to the No. 10 for the 2019 season.

Neither Price or the Red Sox have provided a reason for the uniform number change, but Abraham also tweets that, “there is nothing going on with No. 24. Price just wanted to switch to No. 10.”

Some speculated that perhaps the club was preparing to retire the number in honor of Dwight Evans or Manny Ramirez this upcoming season, but as Abraham states above, this move was based strictly off of Price’s own preference.

In order for this uniform number change to happen, Red Sox bench coach had to give the No. 10 up. Perhaps Price will have to pay for a team dinner or something of the sorts like Eduardo Rodriguez had to do last year to obtain the No. 57 from third base coach Carlos Febles. Roenicke will wear the No. 30 in 2019.

Tzu-Wei Lin also reclaimed the No. 5, which had been briefly taken over by Ian Kinsler, who is now with the San Diego Padres.

Bryce Brentz, who the Red Sox re-signed to a minor-league contract earlier this month, will wear the No. 54.

Here are some other uniform numbers for Red Sox big league camp in Fort Myers.

The No. 46, which was worn by Red Sox and current free agent closer Craig Kimbrel for the last three seasons, has yet to be assigned. That’s something to keep an eye on as February 13th looms near.

Mookie Betts Has Priceless Reaction to a Fly Ball Going over His Head in Right Field.

The Red Sox are playing their last spring training game of 2018 today, and ESPN just so happens to be televising it. In the third inning, they stuck a microphone on Mookie Betts and started interviewing him while he was patrolling right field. These have been happening throughout spring training because why not? The games don’t hold any meaning, might as well get something out of them that you really can’t get during the regular season. I believe this Bryce Harper interview during last year’s All-Star Game on FOX is what started this trend:

Now, ESPN is doing it and they got the best position player on the Red Sox to answer some questions. I wasn’t able to watch the whole thing, but I was able to catch the highlight of it.

Kris Bryant slaps a ball to right as Mookie Betts is answering a question, and what ensues is hilarious.

I don’t know what it is, but hearing, “I ain’t getting this one, boys” as Mookie is chasing down a fly ball was funnier than I thought it would be. The moment may provide some insight into what goes through the heads of these athletes as they are chasing down a ball, or it could be Betts knowing he is on camera and making a joke. Either way, we got  a viral moment in the last spring training game of the year. I doubt Major League Baseball would allow these interviews to be conducted during meaningful games, but maybe we will see these occur more next spring training across the league.

Rafael Devers Left Tonight’s Game After a Scary Collision at Home Plate.

In the second inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs, Red Sox fans had to hold their breaths yet again as another key player appeared to injure himself. Chris Sale took a line drive off his left hip on Saturday, and now Rafael Devers suffered a right knee contusion on this play at the plate tonight.

Everything about this play is pretty awkward. From Victor Caratini’s throw that went over the head of Yu Darvish, to how bad Addison Russell’s throw back to home plate was. As bad as it looked, it was agood sign to see Devers get back on his feet quickly and walk off the field under his own power. You hate to see this stuff happen, especially when the games hold no meaning. Evan Drellich is reporting that Devers is ‘day to day’, so hopefully with some rest he will be ready to go by Thursday.