July 9: Vazquez will require surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks of action, tweets Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. Manager Alex Cora tells reporters that he’s comfortable with Leon and Swihart doing all of the catching during Vazquez’s absence.
July 7: Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez suffered a broken right pinky while sliding on Saturday and will head to the 10-day disabled list, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. Vazquez will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine how much time he’ll miss.
Vazquez’s injury is to his throwing hand, which seems to suggest he’s in for a somewhat lengthy absence. The defensive-minded Vazquez has long been adept at throwing out attempted base stealers, having caught 41 percent during his career, and that has been the case this year. Prior to his injury, he caught 31 percent of would-be base thieves, beating out the league average (27 percent). The 27-year-old has also been one of the game’s top pitch framers in 2018, per Baseball Prospectus, which has no doubt been beneficial to red-hot Boston’s pitching staff.
Thanks in part to Vazquez’s defensive prowess, the Red Sox own the majors’ best record (61-29). He hasn’t contributed much to their elite offense, however, with a subpar .213/.249/.300 batting line in 218 plate appearances. Likewise, fellow Red Sox catchers Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart have offered below-average offense. And even though Swihart, 26, was once a prized catcher prospect for Boston, the team has been reluctant to use him behind the plate. After donning the tools of ignorance 83 times in 2015, his rookie year, Swihart has appeared as a catcher on just 15 occasions for the Sox over the past two-plus seasons.
Given its unwillingness to rely on Swihart as a catcher – not to mention his paltry .175/.241/200 line in 87 PAs – it’s possible the club will seek help at the position prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The best catchers in the rumor mill of late have been the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto and the Rays’ Wilson Ramos, and acquiring either would serve as a major response to Vazquez’s injury. Realmuto isn’t a strong bet to move, however, and would likely be too hard to acquire for a Boston team without a well-regarded farm system. Conversely, Ramos is a near-lock to end up elsewhere in the coming weeks, but whether the Red Sox are interested in him or have the prospect capital to land him is unclear. It’s obvious, though, that Vazquez’s injury is a less-than-ideal development for the Sox as they continue trying to fend off the archrival Yankees in the AL East.