March 28: Leon has accepted his assignment to Triple-A, the team announced.
March 26: 1:14pm: Abraham now tweets that Leon has not actually not yet made a decision on whether he’ll accept the assignment. He has 48 hours to do so.
12:54pm: The Red Sox announced Tuesday that catcher Sandy Leon has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Evan Drellich first reported (via Twitter) that Leon had gone unclaimed, and the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham tweets that Leon has accepted an outright assignment.
Because Leon has more than three years of MLB service time (4.149 years), he could’ve rejected the assignment in favor of free agency. However, only players with five-plus years of service can reject an outright assignment without forfeiting the salary on their contract, so electing free agency would’ve cost Leon $2.475MM. He’ll remain with the organization and, while he won’t count against the 40-man roster, he will count against the team’s luxury tax calculations (a technicality that was changed in the last CBA).
Leon, 30, struggled through an awful season at the plate in 2018, hitting just .177/.232/.279 through 288 PAs. His bat has continually declined since what now looks like a clear outlier campaign in 2016, but he’s regarded as a terrific defender in terms of limiting the running game, framing pitches, and managing a staff.
Despite that proficient glovework, however, Leon found himself squeezed off the Boston roster by a cluttered catching mix no longer deemed tenable by the organization. Boston spent the entire 2018 campaign juggling playing time for Leon, Christian Vazquez and seldom-used former top prospect Blake Swihart. With both Swihart and Leon out of minor league options and Vazquez locked in as the team’s No. 1 catcher, the Sox ultimately cut bait on Leon in favor of Swihart, who’ll now serve as the primary backup in 2019. If Leon does stick with the club, he could eventually resurface in the big leagues in the event of an injury or prolonged struggles for one either Vazquez or Swihart.