A day may come when Blake Swihart gets an opportunity to be a full-time catcher.
But that day never came with the Boston Red Sox, and it may never arrive with the Arizona Diamondbacks, either.
The Red Sox on Friday traded Swihart to Arizona along with international signing bonus pool space for outfield prospect Marcus Wilson. Boston designated Swihart for assignment earlier in the week.
Swihart rose through Boston’s farm system with a reputation for being one of the top catching prospects in baseball, and his impressive rookie season in 2015 seemingly justified the hype. But in the ensuing years, Swihart dealt with a severe ankle injury, got moved all over the diamond, dealt with other injuries and, unsurprisingly, struggled at the plate. All the while, concerns over his ability to play catcher at a high level prevented him from getting an extended look with the Red Sox.
So, when Boston traded the 27-year-old to Arizona, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Swihart to finally develop as a full-time backstop. The Diamondbacks likely aren’t playoff contenders, and they can afford to give a promising catcher a chance to prove himself.
Well, not so fast. Check out this report from Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro:
“With the Diamondbacks, Swihart is not stepping into an everyday role, (D-Backs general manager Mike) Hazen said, adding that he sees him bouncing between various positions other than the one he’s spent most of his career playing.
“Hazen said Swihart can play both corner outfield positions as well as first base and third base. He also mentioned second base as a possibility. Hazen said that, for now, the Diamondbacks feel they have the catching position covered, and he suggested that Swihart won’t displace any of the three catchers currently on the roster.”
So, why trade for a young catcher whose growth has been stunted by perpetual position-shifting if you’re just going to do the same thing to him?
“We really like his bat and think he has a chance to hit,” Hazen said, via Piecoro. “If he ended up in a spot where he got to play every day and did what we felt like he could do with the bat, we wouldn’t have had a chance to acquire him.”
Hard to believe this is what Swihart had in mind.
If there’s one silver lining, it’s that Swihart will be with people who are familiar with his perceived strengths and weaknesses. Arizona assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye was Boston’s scouting director when the organization drafted Swihart in the first round in 2011, and Hazen, manager Torey Lovullo and fellow assistant Jared Porter all worked for the Red Sox while Swihart was in the system.
Come to think of it, playing in Arizona might be the last thing Swihart needs.
Thumbnail photo via Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports Images