After Christian Vazquez's season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox were in desperate need of a catcher to compliment Ryan Hanigan for the 2015 season. Luckily, Boston had one of the top catching prospects in baseball waiting in Triple A.
The 23-year-old Blake Swihart, who was a first round draft pick in 2011, made his debut against the Yankees and didn't look back. In 84 games, the Texas native batted .274 with 5 home runs, 31 RBI and an eye-opening 17 doubles.
With Vazquez's injury no longer a factor, he appears poised, healthy, and ready to be the starting catcher for Opening Day. Swihart will almost certainly be given more time to develop in Triple A, as he was probably rushed to the majors because of the previously mentioned injuries.
However, with two great catchers, something has to give, right? Could Swihart change positions or perhaps even be traded?
Dave Dombrowski has already made it clear that he does not want to enter the 2016 season with three catchers, but Vazquez and Swihart are not "back-up material" given their ability. Swihart could make the transition over to first base, but what does that mean for Travis Shaw and Hanley Ramirez?
In my opinion, it is time to trade Blake Swihart. After having a great rookie campaign, teams across the majors are taking interest in the young Texan and his value may never be higher. Furthermore, the catching position has turned into a position that does not require a .300 batting average and 25 home runs. A gold glove caliber, game managing catcher is far more valuable than a catcher that can hit, but is an average-to-below-average fielder.
If you don't believe me, take a look back at the catchers on the Red Sox World Series winning teams. 2004 may be an outlier, as Red Sox captain Jason Varitek batted .296, with 18 home runs and 73 RBI. However, in 2007, Jason Varitek batted .255 with 17 home runs and 68 RBI. Furthermore, in 2013, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was eventually replaced by the more defensive-minded David Ross, batted .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI.
If Vazquez can hit .250-.260, with 10 home runs and 50 RBI, his outstanding defense will propel the Red Sox to make him the cornerstone catcher for the Boston Red Sox.
With Swihart's value through the roof, the Red Sox should pounce and trade the talented switch hitter for some starting rotation help. It will hurt, but could propel this team into a World Series contender.
By Pete Packowski