Brett Tomko’s career is about to come full circle.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors, the Reds have agreed to sign Tomko to a minor league contract.
Tomko, who turns 39 in April, was originally drafted by the Reds in the second round of the 1995 draft and spent his first three major league seasons with the club before being traded to the Mariners in February of 2000 along with Mike Cameron, Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer in the deal that brought Ken Griffey, Jr. to Cincinnati.
The veteran right-hander made eight relief appearances with the Rangers early last year, but spent most of the season at the team’s Triple-A affiliate, posting an ugly 6.15 ERA and 82/42 K/BB ratio over 108 1/3 innings. He’s unlikely to crack Cincinnati’s Opening Day roster.
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.