Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was well aware Monday night that trading catcher Christian Vázquez would sting inside Boston’s clubhouse.
After all, Vázquez had been with the organization since 2008 and a member of the major league club since 2014. He helped the Red Sox win a World Series title in 2018 and was immensely popular among teammates and coaches, including manager Alex Cora.
But Vázquez is set to become a free agent this offseason, and with the Red Sox hovering around .500, Bloom decided to move the veteran backstop for a couple of controllable assets.
The Red Sox acquired two prospects — infielder/outfielder Enmanuel Valdez and outfielder Wilyer Abreu — from the Houston Astros in exchange for Vázquez, and Bloom is optimistic about each minor leaguer’s potential to eventually make an impact in Boston.
Valdez, 23, was the Astros’ No. 12 prospect, according to Baseball America. The Dominican Republic native is a left-handed hitter who absolutely mashed at Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land, totaling 21 home runs and 77 RBIs along with a .327/.410/.606 slash line in 82 games (378 plate appearances) across the two levels in 2022.
Valdez, who’s capable of playing both the infield and outfield, is one of just four minor leaguers this season with at least a .300 batting average, a .400 on-base percentage and 20 home runs.
“Valdez plays a lot of different positions, but the bat is really the calling card,” Bloom told reporters Monday, one day before the Major League Baseball trade deadline. “It’s come on very well and very quickly. Really, when you go under the hood, there’s a lot of things he does that make him a very complete hitter. He makes contact. He manages at-bats. He drives the ball. He covers all different pitch types. Covers the strike zone really well and has really come on this year, making nice progress offensively.”
Abreu, 23, was Houston’s No. 21 prospect, per Baseball America. He, too, is a left-handed hitter. And the Venezuelan played all three outfield spots with Corpus Christi this season, slashing .249/.399/.459 with 15 homers, 54 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 89 games (411 plate appearances).
“Another kid who is a hitter we like who also plays all three outfield positions, has made himself an asset on defense,” Bloom said of Abreu. “Both guys being left-handed hitters add to our picture. Recognizing they’re in the minor leagues now, we think both these guys have a chance to really help us and help over time make our roster more talented, deeper, more complete.
“And some of what we’ve gone through this year, especially in this recent stretch, has shown the value of having that. We have suffered at times this month from not having had as deep, as complete and as flexible a roster as we would’ve liked. We really look forward to these guys having a good chance to help us rectify that as we go forward.”
Vázquez, 31, left a lasting impact in Boston, ranking fifth in franchise history with 651 games behind the dish. But the Red Sox face a tricky situation ahead of the MLB trade deadline, given their place in the American League standings, and Bloom therefore struck with an eye toward the future.