Normally these drug suspensions are about the least substantial things we cover. But on “player X avoids arbitration with a one year deal” day, this is big news, my friends:
Oakland Athletics Minor League right-handed pitcher Gary Daley Jr. has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for Methylphenidate. The suspension of Daley, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A Midland RockHounds, will be effective at the start of next season.
Man, “Methylphenidate: is a big word. Fifteen letters! I bet no one can top that!
Free agent Minor League first baseman Austin Gallagher has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for Methylhexaneamine. The suspension of Gallagher will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.
I stand corrected.
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.