Josh Harrison is quickly climbing the list of must-watch players. The Pirates’ super-utilityman and National League All-Star dipped and dived his way out of a rundown in the tenth inning against the Mets on June 27, though he did not score. The next inning, he belted a walk-off RBI double.
Harrison has done it again. The speedster deftly avoided Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario’s tag in a run-down in the sixth inning of today’s game in Colorado. The Pirates had already plated two to begin the top of the sixth against Rockies starter Tommy Kahnle thanks to a game-tying two-run home run from Travis Snider. Harrison then reached on a single to shallow center.
With Gregory Polanco at the plate, Harrison stole second base. Only one problem: he overslid the base and shortstop Josh Rutledge was guarding the return path. That’s when the action began:
Harrison would later score on an Ike Davis double to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead. In the eighth inning, Harrison broke a 5-5 tie, hitting a solo home run to right center. He finished 4-for-6 with an RBI single, a double, the solo home run, and two stolen bases in the Pirates’ 7-5 win. The guy is a heap of fun to watch.
Harrison has a .294/.330/.447 slash line with six home runs, 33 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 302 plate appearances this season.
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.