Yankees acquire Eric Hinske from Pirates

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In a minor move designed to add some depth, the Yankees have acquired Eric Hinske from the Pirates for prospects Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson.

Signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract this offseason, Hinske
played sparingly for the Pirates and hit .255/.373/.368 while starting
just 23 of 76 games. He’s unlikely to see any more action for the
Yankees, but as a veteran left-handed bat with some power who can play
any of the corner positions Hinske is a nice bench option.

He can fill in for Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira if needed, and
provides some outfield insurance behind Nick Swisher and Johnny Damon
with Xavier Nady reportedly headed for season-ending elbow surgery.
Hinske has always struggled against left-handed pitching, but is a
career .264/.347/.456 hitter versus right-handers and has averaged 20
homers per 550 at-bats.

Hinske came up with the Blue Jays, winning Rookie of the Year honors
in 2002, and later played for both the Red Sox and Rays, so he’s now
four-fifths of the way through completing the full AL East tour. He’s
your destiny, Orioles fans!

Both prospects heading the Pirates’ way are marginal. Erickson was a
10th-round pick in 2005 who turns 24 years old soon and has yet to
advance past Single-A, although he’s put up some solid numbers against
low-level competition. Fryer was hitting just .250/.333/.344 in 59
games as a 23-year-old at high Single-A after coming to the Yankees in
a February swap for Chase Wright.

Red Sox sign Christian Vazquez to three-year, $13.55 million extension

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The Red Sox signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55 million extension, per a team announcement on Saturday. The agreement will keep Vazquez under contract through the 2021 season and covers two years of arbitration eligibility and the catcher’s first year of free agency. It comes with a $7 million club option (and $250,000 buyout) for 2022 that could get bumped up to $8 million if he reaches 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. Vazquez has also volunteered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox Foundation as part of his new arrangement with the club.

The 27-year-old backstop is entering his fourth year with the Red Sox in 2018. He’s been a steady defender behind the dish over the last three years and was ranked fifth-best in defense among all American League catchers at the end of the 2017 season. He also enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, slashing a career-best .290/.330/.404 with five home runs and a .735 OPS in 345 plate appearances.

Come Opening Day, Vazquez is expected to be the Red Sox’ primary option behind the plate, with veteran Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart poised to start in backup roles. Swihart is out of options, but has been groomed for a utility role this spring and could take a few reps in the left field and the infield corners if need be, as it doesn’t appear the club is prepared to trade him just yet.