Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez has made enough progress in his return from Tommy John surgery that he’s comfortable he’ll be ready for Spring Training, he told reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, as the Sox’s Winter Weekend today. Red Sox lefty Brian Johnson also sounds convinced that Vazquez is back to normal — Johnson, who can reach the low 90s, saw Vazquez throw from 150 feet last week and says he thinks Vazquez was throwing harder than he himself could. Mastrodonato suggests it’s likely the Red Sox will have Vazquez start the season in the minors (which isn’t surprising, since Vazquez is optionable and didn’t play at all last year), and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski describes Blake Swihart as the team’s No. 1 catcher. Mastrodonato notes, though, that Swihart could eventually move to another position, with Vazquez, the better defender, ultimately taking over behind the plate. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- The Orioles have more on their to-do list even after re-signing Chris Davis, Rich Dubroff of CSNmidatlantic.com writes. They can still use an outfielder and starting pitcher (maybe Yovani Gallardo, although top Orioles exec Dan Duquette has said he doesn’t want to part with the No. 14 overall pick by signing a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer). Dubroff also notes (perhaps somewhat speculatively) that they could also pursue a Manny Machado extension. An extension for Machado would surely be hugely expensive, since he’ll already be making $5MM this season in his first year of arbitration eligibility and already has one elite season under his belt, which he posted at the tender age of 22. Machado is currently scheduled to hit free agency following the 2018 season, by which point he’ll only be 26; if he can continue at anything resembling his current pace, his mid- to late-20s seasons will be incredibly valuable on the open market.
- The Marlins were interested in Fernando Rodney before Rodney’s signing with the Padres, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes (scroll down). With Rodney off the board, Marlins executive Michael Hill says the team will have an open competition for the closer’s job, with Carter Capps (he of the ridiculous 98-MPH fastball and 16.8 K/9 in 2015) facing off against A.J. Ramos (who himself had a strong season while recording 32 saves in 2015).