Over the past few seasons the Red Sox have had way too many different catchers.
So who will be behind the plate in 2016? Well to start their are three main options: Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Ryan Hanigan.
First off, let’s look at Swihart:
Off all the catchers competing for the 25 man roster Swihart seems to be set to start behind the dish on Opening Day. Making his debut in early May Swihart had a solid rookie year hitting .274 with five home runs and 31 RBIs. Swihart is a bit unique considering the fact he is solid hitting catcher, with speed unlike most guys behind the plat–as demonstrated by his inside the park homer back on August 29th against the Mets.
Also of the Red Sox’ three main options Swihart missed the least amount of games because of injury only going on the 15 day DL once. However he had the second most passed balls in the MLB with 16 in 2015 and pitchers posted a 4.51 ERA with Swihart behind the plate in 2015 (RSN Stats) so he needs to work on his communication.
Next there’s Vazquez:
Christian Vazquez burst onto the scene in mid 2014, hitting .240 with 20 RBIs and just one home run in 54 games. Vazquez has a great arm to throw out runners, but overworking his arm was likely the cause of him having to have Tom John surgery and miss all of 2015. Compared to Swihart he is much better defensively, in just 54 games he caught 15 runners steeling and pitchers posted an ERA of 3.71 when working with Vaquez. Vazquez is confident that will be on the 25 man roster come April. As he recently started throwing from 150 feet, he’s reported lost 25 pounds and stared he felt “no pain, no set back, nothing.”
Another one is Ryan Hanigan:
At age 35 Hanigan is the most experienced catcher on the roster. With 592 games under his belt he should know how to manage pitchers the best, right? Surprising the Red Sox staff posted the highest ERA (4.58) when Hangian was working behind the plate. That and his paltry performance at the plate that saw him hitting .247 with 16 RBI and two homers AND missing almost half the season with a fractured right hand puts Hanigan in a lower light.
Lastly: Jonathan Lucroy?
Acording to MLB.Com The Red Sox are one of the five candidates to trade for Lucroy. Lucroy had a down year in 2015 but that was likely because he felt with injuries and emotional hurt of seeing many of his teammates such as Carlos Gomez get traded away. However just a year ago Lucroy hit .301 with 69 RBIs and led the MLB in doubles. Also given he only has two years left on his contract the Red Sox could get him short term and let either Swihart or Vazquez get a bit more practice in AAA. Given the fact he only has two years left it might not cost all that much to get him just a few pitching prospects. Possibly even Lucroy for Espinoza straight up.
So who should be the everyday catcher(s) then?
Considering Hanigan didn’t produce as much as Swihart or Vazquez on either side of the field he’s probably not going to be a starter. Throughout Spring Training Swihart and Vaquez will fight to earn the everyday catcher spot but it is likely that they will both be on the 25 man roster, in a platoon.
Swihart will likely be the starting catcher given that he’s the superior hitter, though Vazquez’s defensive capabilities should not, and will not, be overlooked.