The Blake Swihart Conundrum
What are the Red Sox doing with Blake Swihart?
Image source: Zimbio.com: April 8, 2016 -Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America
Let’s flashback to 2014. Swihart was named the 73rd best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. He finally made the 40-man roster, and all seemed well for the 26th selection in the first round of the 2011 draft. Christian Vazquez was equated to Yadier Molina and Blake Swihart was the next-coming of Buster Posey. Everyone believed the Red Sox had both Molina and Posey on their team, and there was a lot of excitement about it. Swihart came up in 2015 and started to show off his skills with the bat that would give him a lot of value behind the plate. In 84 games, he hit .274/.319/.392 with 5 homeruns and 31 RBIs.
Everything seemed on track before the Red Sox decided to stick their nose in it.
It was clear the Red Sox were going to use Christian Vazquez as their everyday catcher in 2016 and they began to deploy Blake Swihart as a utility-type player. Swihart injured his ankle when he collided with a wall in left field during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Injuries plagued him for the better part of a year and a half, but the potential at the major-league level was there.
During Swihart’s tenure in the big leagues, he has played in 114 games with a .270/.329/.381 clip. Most likely, he could be a serviceable bat at the major-league level, especially if we get to see a healthy version.
So where are we now?
Blake Swihart is literally rotting on the bench for the Red Sox. In his age 26 season, he has never really been given a healthy chance to become an everyday catcher. Sure, you could say his defensive skills never played to the team’s liking, but to just have him sitting on the bench does not make a whole lot of sense for the team.
Maybe trade Sandy Leon (although, the return would likely not be great) and let us see that crazy tandem of Posey and Molina that we were promised years ago? You could even rotate him into catcher with the other two. If the idea for the Red Sox is to trade him, sitting him does not rebuild his value. He’s gotten into 8 games this year, but with only 13 plate appearances. It is clear that he is being used as a mere pinch-hitter.
I am not saying Blake Swihart is going to be Buster Posey. I am not even saying he needs to play. The Red Sox have the hottest offense on the entire planet right now, but their catchers are giving them literally nothing with the bat. The duo of Vazquez and Leon have had a .209/.254/.239 slash line and an OPS of .492. Catchers do not necessarily need to be offensive stalwarts, but I think it is important to get a little something. Why not try something a little different and let Blake Swihart get in there?
I’m not sure what the plan is for Blake Swihart. If it is to give him a few at-bats here and there, he will never rebuild enough value to be traded for anything good and the whole thing is a waste of time for everyone. If you want to showcase Blake Swihart, you need to do it at catcher, where his bat holds plenty of value based on past performance. The Red Sox have completely whiffed on handling this guy, and all I can say is I feel sorry for him.