Ryan Braun left the Brewers yesterday to be present for the birth of his first child and he will miss his second straight game tonight as his team begins an important four-game series against the first-place Cardinals. However, the Brewers announced late this afternoon that is well with the baby and Braun is expected to return tomorrow. Good news.
Braun, 30, is batting .275/.327/.480 with 18 home runs and 77 RBI over 114 games this year. Much like the Brewers, he has faded as the season has gone along, putting up a meager .208 batting average, four homers, and a .613 OPS over his last 32 games. He has been playing through a nerve problem in his right hand for almost the entire season, so a couple of days off could be beneficial for him.
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.