The Boston Red Sox are trying to find somewhere for Blake Swihart to play in 2018, as he is out of options. He’s going to be on the Opening Day roster. It’s just not clear where and when he will get his playing time.
Boston is set with Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon as the team’s catchers, but at one point Swihart was the best catcher in the Red Sox system. He may get a chance to catch at some point this season, but it likely won’t be very often.
While the addition of J.D. Martinez has shifted the focus of spring training onto how the Red Sox will handle splitting playing time between Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland at first base, the end of the bench is also something to watch for.
Blake Swihart is in a group of four players fighting for the final two spots on the Red Sox bench. He joins utility infielders Brock Holt, Marco Hernandez, and Deven Marrero. The one thing helping Swihart is his versatility and lack of options left. He’s also been one of the Red Sox best hitters so far in spring training.
Through 3 games played, he is hitting .556 with 3 doubles, a home run, 5 RBI, and 2 walks. He has reached base 7 times in 11 total plate appearances, and he really seems to be finding his stuff at the plate. Now, Boston will have to figure out where to play him in the field. He has spent some time in the outfield, but with J.D. Martinez in the mix there, Swihart may not have a chance. He may have to find a way to contribute in the infield, perhaps at third base.
In that scenario though, the Red Sox will have to weigh the pros and cons. Brock Holt is loved in the Boston clubhouse, and he may actually be a lock on the roster, leaving just one open spot. If Boston wants a solid defensive infielder to back up a young Rafael Devers, Deven Marrero may actually be the better option. He has a great glove and has shown that he can succeed in the majors. The Red Sox then may have to find a trade partner for Swihart. He still has a ton of potential as a true catcher, but the Red Sox would just have to find a team with the need.
Catchers that can hit the way that Swihart does are a hot commodity, and a small market team could be best for him and the Red Sox. One team that comes to mind is the Colorado Rockies.
Chris Ianetta is their everyday catcher, but at 34 his MLB career is likely nearing its end. In spring training, Colorado has Tony Wolters (26) and Tom Murphy (27) fighting it out for the backup spot, but Blake Swihart appears to be better than either player. The Rockies may want a player that has proven himself a bit in the majors, and therefore they could be the best trade partner for the Red Sox. In return, the Red Sox may be able to add to their diminished stash of prospects by asking for a player like left-handed pitcher Ben Bowden or first baseman Jordan Patterson. A need would be filled for both teams.
If Boston does hold onto Swihart, it would likely mean Marrero is sent down to Triple-A. While that may not be desirable, Boston could keep him on the 40-man roster in case of an emergency need for an infielder. Swihart could continue to work as an infielder as well, and maybe even get behind the plate for a few games in the 2018 season. He has the ability to be a very good catcher, and right now he’s just limited by the Red Sox system. A trade may be the best option for him, but Boston may want to hold onto him anyway.
The success Swihart has found in spring training so far has surely complicated things, but if a trade is imminent he’s surely helping to raise his stock. This will be a very intriguing storyline to follow as the 2018 Boston Red Sox season approaches, with Opening Day on March 29th.