By Joshua Nord – @nordjoshua
Blake Swihart has been a latchkey child for this organization from the get go. The Texas born switch hitter was drafted as a shortstop out of high school, but converted to catcher and then tossed around the depth chart as an outfielder, first baseman, and even as designated hitter. What’s remained consistent about all of these positional changes is that Swihart hasn’t gotten any time at all to develop at any of these positions.
While he’s spent the most time at catcher and that was mostly due to injury to Vazquez that sidelined him for a year with Tommy John Surgery. In that year, 2015, Swihart spent half the season behind home plate and despite not being a defensive whiz, he hit a productive .274/.319/.392 clip. That was one of the few high points that season for the sub .500 Sox. However, times have changed. Fellow catcher Christian Vazquez has come back from surgery, and signed an extension this offseason. Journeyman Sandy Leon has proven to work extremely well with Red Sox pitching despite his own offensive woes. This leaves Blake Swihart getting zero time behind the plate, and having to share pinch hit/spot start duties with Brock Holt, and Eduardo Nunez. He’s played in only eighteen games this season thus far, starting only four of them all at the designated hitter role.
Within the Red Sox system, Swihart is without a home, a nowhere man with everything to prove. It’s becoming increasingly more and more clear the Sox don’t want him, and it’s time to look at some trade spots where hopefully he can get a chance.
Below are three teams I believe might be the best case for him to land, all of whom are in desperate need for a catcher, and could offer the Sox something in return.
New York Mets
It’s a typical year for the Mets. Underperforming expectations, getting hit with injuries, and essentially being forgotten about while the Yankees continue to exist. Recently they lost their starting catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, for the season. The Mets were find short term catching help from the Reds in exchange for fallen ace Matt Harvey, but let’s be honest, Mesoraco isn’t that great of a catcher. They definitely have a long term need for that position.
One of their outfielders, Juan Lagares, is now out for the season. This Mets squad is in serious danger of losing their division to the Nationals, Braves, and even Phillies might see a lot of opportunity in a young bat like Swihart’s that could spend time behind the dish as well as
in the outfield.
The Brewers are locked in a fierce divisional battle with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. The Brew Crew are determined to make up for last year’s impressive season, but a disappointing finish. A critical step to accomplish this is to fill the hole they have at backstop. Both of Brewers catchers, Manny Piña and Jeff Vandy, are very underwhelming, and there isn’t an obvious solution within their minor league system. With their third catcher Vogt suffering what might be a career ending injury, the door would be open for Swihart to get some actual time in between the two backstops. Not to mention getting consistent ABs.
The great dumpster fire in Miami is still roaring as the Marlins rank last in the NL East, and will likely plan on maximizing what little value they have left at the July 31 deadline for catcher JT Realmuto. So you’re asking why would they trade for a catcher? Because right now Swihart could give Realmuto some much needed time off, and become the starter once he leaves at the deadline. Different from the two teams listed above there would be no stress of trying to compete for the playoffs. Swihart would get plenty of time to hone himself behind the plate, and might still be around to take a leadership role when the long term rebuild finally takes form.
ICYMI: EPISODE 47 OF THE AVIDBOSTON PODCAST!!!
SOX/ORIOLES SERIES REACTION! LEON VS. VAZQUEZ! POMERANZ VS. WRIGHT! BULLPEN ISSUES! RAYS PREVIEW! AND MUCH MUCH MORE!!
Also available on iTunes!