The Red Sox have been getting Blake Swihart experience at first base, and he’s also been taking grounders at third base, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Boston also plans to send the 25-year-old former top prospect to winter ball this year, which will allow him to make up for some missed time (due to injuries) but could also boost his trade value by showcasing some versatility. The switch-hitting Swihart was long touted as Boston’s catcher of the future, but Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon look locked in for the 2018 season, when Swihart will be out of minor league options. “We recognize where he’s at contractually going into next year,” manager John Farrell tells Abraham. “Trying to create some versatility on the defensive side of things is part of the overall plan.” Swihart’s surgically repaired ankle has still limited him this year, so the extra time in winter ball could prove especially important as the Sox make a determination on his future.
More from the division…
- The Yankees are turning to Jordan Montgomery with the fifth spot in their rotation this time around — not veteran trade acquisition Jaime Garcia, writes Dan Martin of the New York Post. It’s not a long-term move, per manager Joe Girardi, who notes that Garcia will be plugged back into the rotation sometime during the next turn. Nonetheless, it’s a disappointing outcome for a Yankees club that parted with a pair of minor league arms (Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns) to acquire Garcia. The veteran hasn’t lasted more than 5 1/3 innings in any of his starts for the Yankees, though, as Martin points out.
- Welington Castillo’s scorching bat is helping to keep the Orioles in the Wild Card race, and manager Buck Showalter spoke to reporters about how the backstop has met, if not exceeded expectations this past spring (via MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli). “He had that potential,” said Showalter. “I told you from the first day. I wasn’t that knowledgeable other than talking to people, people who I respect their opinion, watching some tape. Until you get someone, especially a catcher, he’s been so easy to work with. … He’s getting a good return for the way he’s approached this season, and so are we.” Castillo is hitting a ridiculous .376/.410/.688 with 10 homers since the All-Star break.
- Of course, Castillo could also be playing himself either out of the long-term picture for the Orioles or at least into a considerably larger contract with them. Given his recent surge at the plate, his cumulative .300/.339/.512 batting line and his career-best/league-leading 50 percent caught-stealing rate (22-for-44), I find it difficult to imagine Castillo exercising his $7MM player option for the 2018 season. Rather, it seems likely that he’ll enter free agency in search of a considerably larger payday and be able to find just that.