Among the notable free agents the Boston Red Sox must contend with this offseason is Christian Vázquez, and while the team has yet to publicly commit to any players who have an opportunity to walk this winter, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made it sound as though the team is pretty high on the catcher.
Speaking to reporters at an end of season press conference Monday, Bloom revealed the impact Vázquez has had on the club both on and off the field.
“We know this is a really hard position to find somebody who not only is physically capable, but is also just mentally and emotionally capable of carrying that load,” he said. “We have a guy that has done that. He’s done that all the way to the end of the season. He is a really important guy to us and we know how much the organization means to him. It’s a hard position to check all the boxes and you don’t take for granted when you have someone who’s shown they can do it.”
Vázquez is homegrown, a rarity on the current Red Sox roster. While he had a quieter season at the plate, hitting .249 with six home runs in his seventh MLB season, he managed to convert 48.9% of non-swing pitches into called strikes, according to data from Baseball Savant. His 1,051 1/3 innings behind the plate led the major leagues.
If the Red Sox did let Vázquez walk, it’s unclear who would replace him. Kevin Plawecki has been reliable for Nathan Eovaldi, but no other organization has looked to him as an everyday catcher — he hasn’t appeared in more than 79 games through his seven seasons in the league, a figure he reached in 2018 with the New York Mets. For what it’s worth, Plawecki is eligible for arbitration heading into 2022.
Boston surely would need another presence behind the plate in the event Vázquez goes elsewhere, but no other option among potential available catchers comes close to the value Vázquez provides.
And judging by his response, Bloom knows it.