As first reported by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on Thursday morning. The season-ending elbow procedure will be performed by Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Florida.
Vazquez began experiencing discomfort in his throwing elbow in mid-March and an MRI taken March 27 revealed structural damage in his ulnar collateral ligament. The rehab process doesn’t take as long for position players as it does for pitchers, so the 24-year-old should be ready to rock when camp opens next spring.
Ryan Hanigan is set to open the 2015 season as Boston’s starting catcher. And top prospect Blake Swihart can now be put on the fast track (if he wasn’t already). Vazquez may become a trade candidate in 2016.
With Christian Vazquez potentially facing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, many have speculated that the situation will speed up the timeline of top prospect catcher Blake Swihart. That might still be the case, but the Red Sox acquired Sandy Leon from the Nationals earlier today and manager John Farrell indicated to Ian Browne of MLB.com that Swihart will likely begin the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.
“The view is that, with a young player like Blake, we’d prefer to get them on a little bit of a roll at the Minor League level before they come to us,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “There’s also a need to continue to refine the receiving side of things. He’s had quite a bit of opportunity here in camp. He’s shown well.
“Just in the big picture, I think we can probably all benefit by playing every day and continuing to work on the areas, the developmental areas that are there.”
Swihart is widely regarded as the top catching prospect in the game, but he’s just turning 23 this week and has only played 18 games above Double-A. This isn’t a service time situation like with Kris Bryant and the Cubs. It just makes sense to give him some more time in the minors.
Ryan Hanigan and Leon figure to handle catching duties in the early part of the season, but Swihart could force a call-up if gets off to a good start.
The Washington Nationals have traded catcher Sandy Leon to the Boston Red Sox in a deal first reported by . . . Sandy Leon:
No word yet what the Nats are getting in return. Fact was, however, that Leon was out of options and he wasn’t going to make the Nats with Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobatan there. In Boston, Leon will likely be the backup catcher now that Christian Vazquez’s health is in serious doubt and Ryan Hanigan looks to take over the starting role. Humberto Quintero is still knocking around Sox camp too, so it’s not a sure thing, of course.
Leon hasn’t hit at all in a small number of big league plate appearances. He has done much better in the minors and, his primary calling card — his excellent arm — plays anyplace.