Does Christian Vazquez really have a future as the catcher for the Red Sox? I would not bet on it. Vazquez turned some heads in the 2014 season when he took over the starting gig and played in 55 games. He has lightning quick feet behind the dish and possesses a cannon for an arm, but he has very limited offensive upside. In 175 at bats that season he hit a mediocre .240 while striking out 33 times. At times he showed solid line drive potential but he lacks power. He never really stood out offensively and the entire reason he gets the starting nod this year is because he is a wonderful pitch framer and can single handedly shut down the opposing running game. However, his strengths that carried him to the big leagues took a hit when he underwent Tommy John surgery before the 2015 season.
Vazquez can very well be a starter in the Major Leagues for many years. Trying to say he will fill out offensively, like Yadier Molina did, is a stretch. His best offensive year will probably be around a .260 average with 10 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Decent numbers for a catcher but in no way a middle of the order hitter. Most Red Sox fans will take that offensive production coupled with the defensive skills he has, but the real future of the Red Sox behind the dish is Blake Swihart.
Swihart advanced to AAA Pawtucket in 2014 for 18 games. He needed a full season in AAA to continue to develop, but injuries thrusted him onto the big league club in the 2015 season. His offensive upside rivals what Buster Posey is currently doing for the Giants. Although he will probably never be Buster Posey, his bat is much more valuable behind the dish than it is moving to first base.
Another reason to love Swihart is that his defense has greatly improved since he has been drafted. Although he is nowhere near the stud Vazquez is, Swihart can get by behind the dish. He threw out 47% of the runners trying to swipe a bag on him in AA in 2014 but only 28% last year in the big leagues. But Swihart is the long term answer for the Red Sox behind the dish.
The best case scenario is that Vazquez comes back and shows no signs of being a lesser defensive player after surgery and the Red Sox can shop him in a deal to fill a need down the line. Like I mentioned before, Vazquez will be a starting Major League player for a long time, but it should not be with the Red Sox. Swihart loses value if he cannot stick behind the plate, because he will never hit for enough power to be a typical first baseman.
Swihart has a grip on the starting gig entering the 2016 season and will probably have a solid year for the Sox as he continues to develop on the fly. Vazquez will challenge Swihart if he can prove healthy, but he will probably be brought along slowly. One things for sure, the Red Sox have a bright future behind the plate, but determining who secures the job might be difficult to do.