What angered New York Yankees fans the most last year was the fact they watched their division rivals (Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox) make a number of moves before the lockout. Whether they were momentous or not, it still beat New York’s lone move of re-signing Joely Rodriguez.
The good news, though? We’re not sure how much more spending/free agent luring the Blue Jays can do when the lockout ends, and it appears as if the Red Sox could be giving us a peek into their plans when transactions are permitted again.
Boston’s starting catcher, Christian Vázquez, who nearly got screwed out of his vesting option for the 2021 season, is playing some winter ball in Puerto Rico. But it’s what he’s doing that’s making us raise some eyebrows.
After nine games with Cangrejeros de Santurce, Vázquez has played six games at first base. Anything we should know here, Red Sox fans?
AND this is the first time he’s participated in any form of winter ball in five years. Makes you wonder. Are the Red Sox declaring themselves out on Kyle Schwarber after re-acquiring Jackie Bradley Jr. to shift their outfield around and now working out Vázquez at first base?
Prior to the lockout, there was buzz about expanded interest in Schwarber, which may have the Red Sox pivoting in the event the bidding reaches a point they’re not comfortable with.
Yankees Rumors: What does this Christian Vázquez update mean for Boston’s free agency plans?
Vázquez has played in a grand total of 15 games at first base before this stint in Puerto Rico, and his 10 appearances at the position back in 2019 remain a career high for a single season. He’s already 60% of the way there in nine winter games.
Another aspect of this to consider is that the Sox might prefer a platoon with Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki behind the plate as well as Vázquez and Bobby Dalbec at first base. Plawecki was a certified Yankee Killer in 2021 and was effective in limited duty (.287 average, .737 OPS in 64 games).
General manager Chaim Bloom is all about maximizing efficiency in a cost-effective manner, and this screams just that, assuming the Sox have bigger plans with their money than splurging on a position-less Schwarber with JD Martinez already entrenched in the designated hitter role.
Some might agree that such a strategy would be even more frightening for the Yankees, especially if Carlos Correa or Trevor Story are indeed on Boston’s radar. If that’s their free agency plan (Xander Bogaerts would shift over to second base in this scenario), the Sox can stretch Vázquez in his final year with the team and potentially usher in a totally new-ish infield structure for 2022 and beyond.
Otherwise, why would Vázquez be playing a new position in a league he hasn’t participated in since 2017?