Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Look to the Boston Red Sox for a backup catcher

Brendan Panikkar
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 04: Blake Swihart
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 04: Blake Swihart /
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Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on the potential value Luke Maile could bring to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. While I still think Maile opens up as the backup to Russell Martin, the Blue Jays would be silly to not look for upgrades on Maile. That is where the Boston Red Sox come into play, as they have a tough call to make with their catching situation.

Luke Maile was pretty terrible in his limited action for the Blue Jays in 2017. While he is a very good defensive catcher and pitchers like throwing to him, it’s still a big question mark as to what you can get with the bat from Maile. It’s not going to be much, if anything, which could lead to another below replacement level year. Maile likely won’t last very long in 2018 with Reese McGuire and Danny Jansen knocking on the doors for a big league call-up.

With all of that said, the Blue Jays would be silly to not look for upgrades on Luke Maile to open up 2018 when teams have to roster crunch at the end of the spring. That’s where the Boston Red Sox come into play as they have Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart as viable options at catcher. They’re clearly not going to be parting ways with Vazquez, that’s out of the question. Sandy Leon can bring good defense and contribute offensively, so he’d likely not be let go either.

That leaves Blake Swihart. Swihart is in spring training with his Red Sox future very much in jeopardy as he has no more options. Swihart would need to be DFA’d if he was to remain in the Red Sox organization, which would subject him to waivers. Swihart has shown potential to be a viable major league catcher in the past but injuries and inconsistency has derailed his development.

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The last season where Blake Swihart amassed more than 100+ plate appearances was 2015 where he slashed .274/.319/.392, hit 5 home runs, drove in 31 runs, and had a wRC+ of 93. For a backup catcher with a good glove, you’ll take that any day of the week. His fWAR total for that season was 1.5, which is a major upgrade on what you’d get from Luke Maile.

In the Blue Jays front office is former General Manager Ben Cherington. Cherington is extremely familiar with Blake Swihart and was a big fan of what he can bring to a team. Should the Boston Red Sox end up parting ways with Swihart at the end of the spring, I’d expect some heavy interest from the Toronto Blue Jays given the familiarity of Swihart with Ben Cherington.

I still think it will be Luke Maile who ends up as the backup catcher, but should this scenario play out, I’d be very surprised if the Blue Jays weren’t involved in trying to get Blake Swihart to backup Russell Martin for 2018.

Next: Is there room for Ezequiel Carrera at all?

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