The Red Sox have designated catcher Blake Swihart for assignment, as first reported by Evan Drellich of WEEI.com (Twitter link). In his place, Sandy Leon is heading back onto the MLB roster, as Jon Heyman of MLB Network was first to tweet.
Struggling out of the gates, the defending champs have decided upon a change behind the dish. The considerations are familiar; they were weighed just weeks ago when Leon was outrighted in favor of Swihart. This move, then, constitutes a mulligan of sorts.
Swihart wasn’t off to an inspirational start at the plate, with a .231/.310/.385 slash, but it seems likely that the move was driven primarily by the club’s broader pitching issues. The Boston staff has been among the worst in all of baseball thus far. While that reflects quite a bit more than Swihart’s own performance behind the dish, the organization obviously feels it has something to gain in that regard by switching things up.
Leon was stashed down at Triple-A after clearing waivers late in camp. He lacks Swihart’s abilities on offense but is lauded for his glovework and game management skills. He had teamed with Christian Vazquez to form a defensive-oriented backstop combination in recent years, but the club opted to give Swihart a run at the position to open the season after utilizing him in a utility role last year.
The move potentially means jettisoning the upside and cheap control embodied in the control rights over Swihart. He’s earning $910K this year as a Super Two player and comes with three further arbitration-eligible campaigns. Long lauded as a potential impact bat that can line up behind the dish, those predictions haven’t yet come to fruition. Over 626 career MLB plate appearances, Swihart owns a .255/.314/.365 slash line.
Teams that believe in the bat may well give Swihart a chance at a lengthier run of consistent playing time. That could come via trade or waiver claim. If no team is interested in carrying the out-of-options 27-year-old on its active roster and he clears waivers, the Red Sox will have a chance to stash him back at Triple-A.