Vazquez' future

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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View: https://twitter.com/redsoxstats/status/1443956451119087626?s=20


This got me thinking about what will happen with Vazquez for next year.

My gut feeling is that he's not the Sox' starting catcher next season. He's already 31, has a 76 OPS+ this year and has been dreadful on the basepaths and defensively this season. He's also made numerous mental errors particularly in the second half. His baserunning and pitch calling are highly suspect. The starting pitchers also seem to do better throwing to Plawecki. Out of 29 catches with 300+ plate appearances he is 25th in wRC+ and has only a 0.6 WAR this year.

On the other hand, decent catching is a scarce commodity. Perhaps the Sox pick up the option and then trade him, and roll with Wong and Plawecki for 2022?
 

Cesar Crespo

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Ronaldo Hernandez could be ready sometime in 2022.

Very good arm, weak framing receiving. Poor plate discipline, hits for power.

Since July 1st: .335/.376/.583, .377 BAbip in 234 PA/218 AB. 22 doubles, 1 triple, 10 HRs. 9bb/42k.

I'm guessing Vaz is back for 2022. He's already on the books.
 

RIrooter09

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Ronaldo Hernandez could be ready sometime in 2022.

Very good arm, weak framing receiving. Poor plate discipline, hits for power.

Since July 1st: .335/.376/.583, .377 BAbip in 234 PA/218 AB. 22 doubles, 1 triple, 10 HRs. 9bb/42k.

I'm guessing Vaz is back for 2022. He's already on the books.
It's a team option, so he doesn't have to be on the books.
 

Cesar Crespo

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It's a team option, so he doesn't have to be on the books.
Yeah I read it wrong. Crazy people were talking about extending him earlier this year based off his first like 20 AB though.

He's gone. I doubt they are handing the job to someone internally though. There's no one ready.
 

bankshot1

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Vaz's defensive decline and lapses in judgement caught me by surprise this year. I thought he was a better situational guy. I probably like him more than the average SoSHer. He had a bad year. I'd probably pull the trigger on the option.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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The idea that he is awful defensively and that pitchers are better pitching to Plawecki isn’t borne out by any statistics. Offensively, they are very similar players. Sox have the ability to bring both guys back next year, and I assume they will, and hope that Wong or Hernandez is ready by mid-season or 2023.

They could go with Plawecki and Wong and save $7m, but that seems unlikely to me.
 

RIrooter09

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Yeah I read it wrong. Crazy people were talking about extending him earlier this year based off his first like 20 AB though.

He's gone.
I'm not sure he is though. The free agent catching options are pretty weak.

Buster Posey (35) -- club option
Mike Zunino (31) -- club option
Tucker Barnhart (31) -- club option
Christian Vázquez (31) -- club option
Manny Piña (34)
Yan Gomes (34)
Alex Avila (35)
Stephen Vogt (37)
Jeff Mathis (39)
Wilson Ramos (34)
Roberto Pérez (33) -- club option
Kurt Suzuki (38)
Jose Lobaton (37)
Robinson Chirinos (37)
Sandy León (33)
Austin Romine (33)
 

ookami7m

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Obviously any conversation has to include potential replacements. The FA catcher list isn't inspiring as posted above (I had the wrong list) Nothing exciting to grab there. I'd be shocked if we don't have Vaz onboard next year with a declining role.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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If you want to dump Vaz, keep in mind that these are the best FA catchers.

Posey
Yan Gomes
Zunino
Wilson Ramos
Tucker Barnhart
Martin Maldonado
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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The idea that he is awful defensively and that pitchers are better pitching to Plawecki isn’t borne out by any statistics. Offensively, they are very similar players. Sox have the ability to bring both guys back next year, and I assume they will, and hope that Wong or Hernandez is ready by mid-season or 2023.

They could go with Plawecki and Wong and save $7m, but that seems unlikely to me.
Eovaldi and Pivetta are far better throwing to Plawecki than they are to Vazquez.
 

RIrooter09

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If you want to dump Vaz, keep in mind that these are the best FA catchers.

Posey
Yan Gomes
Zunino
Wilson Ramos
Tucker Barnhart
Martin Maldonado
Posey, Zunino, and Barnhart would be improvements but will almost certainly have their options picked up. I would try to sign Gomes if we let him go.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Tiebreaker games count as a regular season game though, don't they? He could possibly get 16 in 4 games.
 

moondog80

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Vazquez would be mildly overpaid on a one year deal, but there are no alternatives that look great on paper, so I suspect the decision will reflect the Sox' internal, less tangible views on Vazquez.

If I had to guess I'd say they being him back and hope for a bounceback.
 

Max Power

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After all the poor defense, predictable pitch calling, dumb baserunning, and lazy plays, I was 100% ready to dump him. But that list of free agents is just terrible. If they can't swing a trade for someone better, there sadly isn't much choice but to bring him back.
 

dynomite

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I hope this isn't needlessly critical in hindsight, but I think it's important context: it seems clear now the Sox should have traded Vazquez last August when he was in the midst of his highest OPS+ "season," had multiple cost controlled years on his contract, and the Mets, Padres, and Rays were all rumored to be interested. There were even decent (for Catcher) free agent options last year, too (Zunino's career year sort of came out of nowhere thanks to the Rays pixie dust, but guys like Jason Castro and Curt Casali have been decent part time Catchers as well).

And at the risk of being contradictory, while I wish we had "sold high," I'm not sure we should let others "buy low." While I'm sure there are better metrics out there and I don't know whether this takes into account pitcher performance (I doubt it?), Fangraphs still has Vazquez as the 20th most valuable catcher by defensive WAR in the sport right next to Yan Gomes and Yadier Molina -- it's just his awful hitting that has dogged him. Plus Vazquez is 4th in MLB in plate appearances among Catchers (and "most time" catchers like Sal Perez, etc.). That kind of volume and ability to play so often carries its own value, particularly when compared to the Plawecki/Castro/Casali tier of guys who are unlikely to ever be asked for more than ~250 PAs in a season.

In short, as @Max Power says above, like democracy Vazquez seems like the worst option... except for all the alternatives.
 

Rovin Romine

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Vaz's defensive decline and lapses in judgement caught me by surprise this year. I thought he was a better situational guy. I probably like him more than the average SoSHer. He had a bad year. I'd probably pull the trigger on the option.
I'm sort of in this boat. I don't think he used to be this bad. But he's actually only had one good year, which was 2019.

As for this year - overwork? Something off the field? If it's deemed fixable, I'd have no objection to him returning, but after this season, I wouldn't have the slightest pang if they went in a new direction.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I hope this isn't needlessly critical in hindsight, but I think it's important context: it seems clear now the Sox should have traded Vazquez last August when he was in the midst of his highest OPS+ "season," had multiple cost controlled years on his contract, and the Mets, Padres, and Rays were all rumored to be interested. There were even decent (for Catcher) free agent options last year, too (Zunino's career year sort of came out of nowhere thanks to the Rays pixie dust, but guys like Jason Castro and Curt Casali have been decent part time Catchers as well).

And at the risk of being contradictory, while I wish we had "sold high," I'm not sure we should let others "buy low." While I'm sure there are better metrics out there and I don't know whether this takes into account pitcher performance (I doubt it?), Fangraphs still has Vazquez as the 20th most valuable catcher by defensive WAR in the sport right next to Yan Gomes and Yadier Molina -- it's just his awful hitting that has dogged him.

In short, as @Max Power says above, like democracy Vazquez seems like the worst option... except for all the alternatives.
He's the 20th most valuable catcher by defensive WAR and you are arguing that's a good thing? That's below average by default, at least if you are talking about starting catchers.
 

chawson

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Think it’s time to move on from Vaz, but I also thought so after 2019.

Plawecki can sometimes seem so close to being a capable starter, it’s too bad he can’t throw anyone out. But if he’s the backup, it seems like an equally relevant question whether to tender him a contract. Is it worth paying a good-bat, so-so glove reserve backstop $2.75-3M for 175 PAs? Anyway, I have a hunch we trade for Mitch Garver.
 

dynomite

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He's the 20th most valuable catcher by defensive WAR and you are arguing that's a good thing? That's below average by default, at least if you are talking about starting catchers.
I think here again it's about the alternatives. Truly outstanding defensive catchers like Zunino and Posey and Realmuto won't be available this offseason. Plawecki is 55th in this ranking and has been worth negative defensive WAR (-0.1), and the likely free agents have their own issues: Martin Maldonado from Houston is a very good defensive catcher but only wishes he could be 2021 Vazquez at the plate (he's at .173/.274/.302). Tucker Barnhart from Cincinnati is basically a Vazquez clone -- same age, similar defensively, identical career 82 wRC+. Etc.
 
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OurF'ingCity

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Considering its 1 year/8m, I think you pick up the option and then still try to upgrade if possible. And if you do, shouldn't be too hard to trade Vazquez on that contract given that many other teams will also be looking at a pretty barren catching market.
 

ookami7m

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Think it’s time to move on from Vaz, but I also thought so after 2019.

Plawecki can sometimes seem so close to being a capable starter, it’s too bad he can’t throw anyone out. But if he’s the backup, it seems like an equally relevant question whether to tender him a contract. Is it worth paying a good-bat, so-so glove reserve backstop $2.75-3M for 175 PAs? Anyway, I have a hunch we trade for Mitch Garver.
But the "controlling the running game" portion of modern baseball is so much less important than in the past. I'd imagine that management won't use that as a huge par of their decision making process.
 

StuckOnYouk

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His slugging pct has plummeted from .457 to .350 over the past year.
He will be a year older next year and quite frankly is not in the best of shape as is right now.
I’d have no problem signing Yan Gomes to a 1 year deal. Maybe you save a million or two.
go with Gomes and Plawecki with an eye towards AAA when the time is right.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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His slugging pct has plummeted from .457 to .350 over the past year.
He will be a year older next year and quite frankly is not in the best of shape as is right now.
I’d have no problem signing Yan Gomes to a 1 year deal. Maybe you save a million or two.
go with Gomes and Plawecki with an eye towards AAA when the time is right.
Was typing this, but now I think ^^^ is a great option.

I never liked the guy but thought he was worth the contract and after the first 20 PA's of this season I was pretty happy with how he was trending. It's been pretty downhill since then.
I'm ready to move on. Pick up the option and trade him. I'm ready for the Plawecki and Wong show. The Sox should be able to carry a noodle bat.
 

nvalvo

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If we want to move on from Vazquez, a player who might be worth targeting is Mitch Garver. Minnesota is very likely to launch a massive rebuild after a very disappointing season and Byron Buxton declining their offered extension.

Garver is already 30, but just entering his arbitration years, which will likely be pretty expensive. On the one hand, injuries have limited his playing time, but on the other hand, he has the kinds of skills that the arb process rewards. He has a career .256/.342/.495 line in about 1000 PA, including 53 HR and 52 doubles. Since his breakout 2019, his line (including a terrible 2020) has been a marvelous.254/.349/.548. He has tremendous quality of contact, a manageable K rate and a decent walk rate. He wouldn't likely hit fourth in Boston as he has in Minnesota, but adding another .850+ OPS at an up-the-middle position can really lengthen a lineup.

Now the caveats:

I don't know what to make of his health going forward, but the injuries that have limited his playing time don't appear to have been chronic. Shohei Ohtani messed up his ankle in a collision back in 2019, which cost him a few weeks, but he came back and finished the season strong. He missed about a month this season due to "groin contusion" that required surgery — yikes. But since returning, he's been hitting .299/.394/.552 and mostly cleaning up for a pretty good Twins lineup (the issues in Minnesota are pointedly not the offense: 103 OPS+, 88 ERA+). He's dealt with back issues, which sound like the most concerning issue going forwards.

I don't really know what to make of Garver defensively. He's big for a catcher. Defensive statistics are obscure in the best of circumstances, but I really don't understand how they work for catchers. Statcast had him as a terrible framer until this year, when he leapt to the 88th percentile. Is that just some luck with umpires, or is that a durable improvement? I have no idea. DRS hated his 2018, but has graded him as about average since then. In terms of the running game, Garver has only caught 19% of SB attempts in his career, and runners definitely try running on him more than they do on the Sox' catchers: about 50% more per inning caught. But that stuff is so hard to evaluate, because it's basically all confounding variables. Is his poor performance because some pitching staffs do a better or worse job at holding runners? Is it that, playing in the AL Central, Garver faces more speed-oriented teams that run a lot, like Cleveland and especially Kansas City? So is Vazquez catching more runners because he's throwing out plodding Orioles and Blue Jays, while Garver is getting beaten by the Royals' speedsters? Do the Twins more often find themselves in game situations where stolen bases are an attractive tactic? You could imagine that teams playing Boston, who plays in a park that has a huge park effect boosting doubles, might feel that their fast runners are in scoring position on first.

So why would the Twins trade him? You could readily imagine the Twins deciding to go with their glove-first rookie Ryan Jeffers as the primary catcher in a rebuild centered on younger players like Arraez, Kepler, Kirilloff and their top infield prospect Royce Lewis, and cash out Garver. You could imagine Dalbec or Duran being appealing additions to that young position player core, but what that team really needs is pitching.

Thoughts?
 

JBJ_HOF

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Vazquez was one of the major SLG vs. xSLG overachievers in baseball the past few years.

None of his underlying stats backed up him being a good hitter.



This summer Cora talked about the new baseballs and how now he is hitting "empty fly balls" and to not expect him to go back to hitting 20+ home runs. He's toast.
 

Jack Rabbit Slim

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It seems likely they will pick up the option but that does not necessarily mean he will be the starter next year. I think they should make offers on other catchers (Yan Gomes in FA, Garver via trade, etc.) and if they can get someone better at a reasonable price then either shop Vaz or non-tender Plawecki.
 

grimshaw

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I'd probably just stick with him. Pina is perfectly fine but he won't be cheaper than Vazquez and then you're just rolling the dice a new guy could come in and mesh well with new arms.

I'd like to see Wong on the roster next season regardless, to see if he's a capable back up.
 

LogansDad

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I doubt they are willing to give up what it will take to get him, but I would love for them to kick the tires on MJ Melendez, from the Royals system. Monster bat, all fields power, great arm, and, from what I could tell from watching him in AA, good game calling and rapport with his pitchers. Blocked by Sal Perez, and I expect will be shopped hard this off season.
 

joe dokes

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Interesting factoid on Vaz in today's Glob:

For Christian Vázquez, the regular season represented a step back. After he’d performed as one of the elite two-way catchers in baseball in 2019-20, hitting .278/.327/.472 with 30 homers in 710 plate appearances, the 31-year-old saw his offense drop considerably this year.
He hit .258/.308/.352, numbers that resulted in Kevin Plawecki claiming a growing slice of the playing pie down the stretch. But even in a down year, Vázquez displayed traits that have proven valuable in the playoffs.
Throughout the year, Vázquez performed well against relievers, hitting .273/.336/.405. And against pitches of at least 95 miles per hour he hit .306 (16th best in MLB among the 118 batters who saw at least 300 such pitches) and slugged .556 (14th).
“He is not afraid of a fastball,” said bullpen coach Kevin Walker, whose history with Vázquez dates to their time together with the Lowell Spinners in 2009.
Those skills have allowed Vázquez to contribute immensely in the last week and a half. In the second-to-last day of the season, his RBI triple off a 98-m.p.h. fastball set in motion a four-run, ninth-inning rally that propelled the Sox to a huge win. In Game 3 of the ALDS, he turned on a 96-m.p.h. fastball from Rays reliever Luis Patiño and drilled a walkoff two-run homer. And in Game 4, his single off a Patiño slider kickstarted the winning rally in another walkoff victory.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I don't remember exactly when he went on the bereavement list, but I'd be interested in seeing pre- and post-list splits for him, and to see how they compare to 1st and 2nd half splits over the course of his career.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I don't remember exactly when he went on the bereavement list, but I'd be interested in seeing pre- and post-list splits for him, and to see how they compare to 1st and 2nd half splits over the course of his career.
He was on the bereavement list from 8/11 to 8/14.

.254/.303/.336 before (370 PA)
.267/.323/.397 after (128 PA)

His career 1st half/2nd half splits (2021 inclusive)
.258/.298/.379 (1152 PA)
.255/.315/.372 (866 PA)
 

Jason Bae

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I don't remember exactly when he went on the bereavement list, but I'd be interested in seeing pre- and post-list splits for him, and to see how they compare to 1st and 2nd half splits over the course of his career.
Pre-Bereavement:
.254/.303/.336, .306 BABIP, 6.2% BB%, 18.9% K%, 87.0 EV

Post-Bereavement:
.267/.323/.397, .283 BABIP, 7.8% BB%, 10.9% K%, 84.5 EV

Career 1st half:
.258/.298/.379 in 1152 PA

Career 2nd half:
.255/.315/.372 in 866 PA

edit: @Red(s)HawksFan beat me to it.
 

Van Everyman

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Pre-Bereavement:
.254/.303/.336, .306 BABIP, 6.2% BB%, 18.9% K%, 87.0 EV

Post-Bereavement:
.267/.323/.397, .283 BABIP, 7.8% BB%, 10.9% K%, 84.5 EV

Career 1st half:
.258/.298/.379 in 1152 PA

Career 2nd half:
.255/.315/.372 in 866 PA

edit: @Red(s)HawksFan beat me to it.
So no deferenz?

Vaz is a funky player:

The only offensive player who didn’t regress on the 2017 team from the year before.

Who played brain dead for the first half of 2018 before going on the DL for an extended period of time, while Leon caught seemingly every game for months on end, before coming back for a very solid stretch run that year.

Who, as noted, performed very well in 2019–20 while the rest of the team cratered.

And then, this year, where we went from talking about giving him an extension in the spring to wanting to DFA him by July.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Huh. Thank you for the stats. That is.....not what I expected.
If I remember correctly, late August into September is when he seemed to make some noticeably bad concentration and judgment errors on the bases and in the field.

His hitting seemed to be about the same as the rest of the year, but then in late September, starting with the Yankee series, he went 3 for 20 to end the year. But one of those 3 was the huge 9th-inning triple on the second-to-last day.

He didn't hit a HR from September 2 to the walkoff on October 10.

He started 119 games at catcher this year, 16 more than he ever has before, and caught a career high 1051 innings, 133 more than his previous career high of 918.

Maybe he was worn down mentally and physically in September?
 

Rovin Romine

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If I remember correctly, late August into September is when he seemed to make some noticeably bad concentration and judgment errors on the bases and in the field.

His hitting seemed to be about the same as the rest of the year, but then in late September, starting with the Yankee series, he went 3 for 20 to end the year. But one of those 3 was the huge 9th-inning triple on the second-to-last day.

He didn't hit a HR from September 2 to the walkoff on October 10.

He started 119 games at catcher this year, 16 more than he ever has before, and caught a career high 1051 innings, 133 more than his previous career high of 918.

Maybe he was worn down mentally and physically in September?
His usage prior to his wearing down was pretty heavy too. On Sept. 7th, I ran the use numbers:

Vazquez: 921 innings at catcher. 113 games at catcher. (Plus 5 DH/various, for 118 total games.) 404 ABs for a 75 OPS+
Perez: 884. 108. (30 DH for 138.) 524 for 129.
Maldonado: 853. 101. (103 total.) 319 for 59.
Molina: 855. 101. (104 total.) 377 for 83.
Smith: 842. 98. (111.) 355 for 137.
Realmuto: 829. 101. (111 total.) 393 for 116.
Murphy: 826. 100. (107 total.) 325 for 102.

Those are gaps of 40 innings to the runner up, then 70ish, then 90.
After that his catching usage seemed more in line.

The finish was:
Vaz: 1051 innings at catcher.
Maldonado: 1010
Smith: 1004
Perez: 1002
Molina: 1001
Realmuto: 973
Murphy: 923

(Note: this isn't the most innings period, at the end, it's just comparing the first list)