Baseball trades often have a surprise quotient to them, and when the Red Sox dealt Christian Vázquez to the Astros at the trade deadline, that aspect was apparent. On a stunning scale, it registered quite high, primarily when the more notable names remained glued to the roster.
Vázquez had served well in Boston, and his ruggedness, game-calling, and defensive abilities were well-recognized. This was not Salvator Perez, but few are. Vázquez was dependable, which is just what you want. There was no dead weight, so his trade was a surprise.
Boston acted quickly and swung another deal, bringing lefty-hitting Reese McGuire to town. On September 19th, the Red Sox released backup catcher Kevin Plawecki terminating a relatively solid catching duo of Vázquez-Plawecki.
The word around the campfire was that the Red Sox would bring back Vázquez, a free agent. A reunion made a world of common sense since the farm system had no up-in-light backstop prospect, but in the new world of Red Sox management, common sense is unknown. Vázquez signed with the Twins for three years at $30 M, and the catching duo became McGuire and Connor Wong. It may only be the end of April, folks, but it doesn’t look pretty so far.
Baseball Prospectus provides a metrics word salad of defensive statistics, and Vázquez rests comfortably in the fourth position. McGuire is 23rd, and Connor Wong is listed as 49th.
On FanGraphs the picture is equally depressing on both offense and defense. The defensive highlight is Wong has five defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and the offensive highlight, from my view, is nonexistent.
Traditional measurements are usually fielding percentages and caught stealing (CS) figures. CS has long been questioned since pitchers are often accomplices in that measurement – think the timing on delivery, but even the CS is especially alarming for McGuire, with just one being cut down in 19 attempts. Wong is at a .500 pace on that stat. However, Wong does well in catcher Pop Up Time. Probably a contributor to Wong’s 50%. Thanks to rule changes, CS is now under the microscope since the running game is picking up.
Offensively and defensively not signing Christian Vázquez has neutered the catching
No matter how you cut the cloth on defense, the Red Sox catching duo has yet to perform. Then comes the offense, and neither brings back memories of Carlton Fisk or even Sammy White.
Wong is barely hitting his weight (181 lbs) and may eventually hit his kilogram weight (82 kg). McGuire presents far better with the stick hovering around .300. Nether will hit for power.
I am not on a baseball island as a lone figure shouting to Chaim Bloom: “Damn it! Sign Vázquez.” The idea of the lefty-righty combo of McGuire and Vázquez would be an excellent fit. Bloom was not listening to me and a boatload of others; they are paying for it now.
Bloom did make some roster moves in case the great catching escapade failed, and one is currently in Worcester. Jorge Alfaro has a nice right-hand bat with some good power, and Alfaro has seven years or parts of them at the MLB level, and you will not see any Gold Gloves under his awards. At Worcester, his CS is abysmal – McGuire territory.
A second option at WooSox Land is another righty bat in Caleb Hamilton. Hamilton surfaced briefly with the Twins in 2022, hitting just .056, and Hamilton is also in Wong territory with the bat in Worcester. As far as his arm Hamilton has three CS in 27 attempts, and this is not a Roy Campanella clone.
The Red Sox catching is a dead end. Defensive improvement will not be found in Worcester; an offensive upgrade is a mirage. Is there a plus in these mysterious moves?
The Red Sox have already presented one Emmanuel Valdéz, one of the two pieces acquired from the Astros. BSI’s Stryker Shenoy covers Valdéz in this article. The second prospect the Astros delivered is intriguing. Wilmer Abreu may not be José Abreu, but the one connection with José is slugging. Unfortunately, José has done it at the MLB level, and Wilmer has not.
The Red Sox got McGuire for a signing failure that the White Sox gleefully took off our books. Jake Diekman somehow went 5-1 for the Red Sox, and his Chicago days have not kind. But Boston also got Taylor Broadway, and BSI’s Hunter Noll has all the Broadway info here.
Boston has nowhere to go with their catching, and with a team that is hell-bent on .500, they may have to stick with what they have. Bloom can examine trades or potential free agents, but this looks like a damned if you do and damn if you and damned if you don’t situation.