It seemed like Jason Bay was pulling himself out of his funk before the All-Star break. He had good series against the Tigers, Yankees and the Dodgers, putting a little hitting streak together for a while, showing some pop and generally not looking moribund.
But the last series before the break against the Giants had him going 0 for 11, and then yesterday he took an 0 for 4, stranding runners and missing a fly ball in the eighth inning yesterday that led to a three-run inning for Philly. That led to the boo birds coming out in full force and, seemingly, has Bay back to square one. That little spark of optimism notwithstanding, he’s at .234/.322/.329. Meanwhile, Scott Hairston is on a hot stretch and even Willie Harris is starting to look like a viable alternative.
So the question is: how much longer does Bay get penciled in the lineup every day?
I don’t have an answer. But I think that’s the question everyone is going to be asking for the next few days in New York.
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.