The Boston Red Sox are loaded with catchers that any team would be lucky to have. Though all of them are very solid, they all have their major flaws making the decision of who will get the opening day start very difficult. Let’s take a look at each of the three Sox backstops and evaluate their risk/reward:
When you take a close look you realize the MLB is no place for him yet. He offers a ton of offensive upside at a position that is typically regarded as weak offensively. The now 24 year old was a former top 20 prospect in the minors that flashed an ability to hit for average while providing some pop in the lineup. He hit pretty well in 2015 in almost half the season with the big league club. However, behind the plate Blake looked lost and his recent struggles throwing the ball back to the pitcher suggest that he is probably not major league ready behind the plate. Does his offensive upside outweigh his defensive liability? In my opinion not at all. Swihart threw out under 30% of runners in 2016 which is horrible. The Sox need a field general calling the games for the new and improved pitching staff and Swihart, is not that. I would start him in AAA until he can prove his defense is up to par with his offense.
Sox fans love Sandy Leon. Through his first 4 seasons (73 total games), he was a .183 hitter. So why was he still in the league? Its simple, Sandy Leon is one of the most intelligent catchers in the game and has a great ability to toss out runners. His ability to call a game is up to par with guys like Posey and Molina. He makes every pitcher better. I mean Rick Porcello won a Cy Young with Leon calling the shots. Along with that, Sandy found himself offensively last season. Was his .310 average a fluke? More than likely. But even if Leon drops down to being a .250 hitter in 2017, his defense surely outweighs the lack of offense. Being a .250 hitting catcher with top 3 game calling ability makes him one of the better catchers in the league. I want Sandy Leon behind the plate as much as possible. I would make him the opening day starter, though Farrell might have other plans.