Astros catcher Christian Vazquez will be a free agent this off-season, and has indicated his biggest priority will be finding a team willing to hand him the starting job.
Vazquez, 32, started 24 of a possible 58 matches after being traded from the Red Sox to Houston for minor leaguers Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez on deadline day. The team usually opts for Martin Maldonado to catch Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers, meaning starts for Vazquez haven’t been as plentiful as in Boston.
“It was hard and it’s still hard,” Vazquez told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “But I’ll be a free agent after the postseason and I can choose where I want to go. Everybody knows that.”
The Puerto Rico native had been with the Red Sox since being drafted in the ninth round in 2008, and had been their starting catcher since 2018. He put together a combined .262/.311/.389 line during his time in Boston, and graded out as an above-average catcher defensively. His bat and ball skills are well measured, but he’s also widely regarded as a strong leader and positive clubhouse presence, too. Vazquez’ offensive numbers dropped significantly after the trade, and he hit just .250/.278/.308 across 108 plate appearances, but given the sudden drop in playing time perhaps it’s forgivable that Vazquez struggled to find consistency initially. Nonetheless, he’ll figure to do well in free agency as one of the better catchers available.
Bat-first catcher Willson Contreras headlines the catching free agents, but Vazquez is arguably the second best option available. With Maldonado under contract in Houston for another year, it seems likely that Vazquez will look for a new team to give him the playing time he seeks. While almost any team could do with a well-rounded catcher like Vazquez, a return to the Red Sox would be something he’d welcome.
“I hope so. I’d love it. It was my [house] for a long time,” Vázquez said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Reese McGuire impressed down the stretch for the Red Sox, but Kevin Plawecki is a free agent and Connor Wong struggled in his small sample of playing time so the Red Sox do figure to be active in the catching market this off-season. Ultimately though, with the Mets, Twins, Rays, Cardinals, Brewers, Guardians, and White Sox among the contending teams that could be seeking upgrades at the position Vazquez is likely to have plenty of interest.