Blake Swihart has been absolutely raking this Spring. So far he’s 9-21 with a home run, 5 doubles and 8 RBI. His performance at camp begs the question: what do we do with him?
After a very promising rookie campaign in 2015 which saw him hit .274 and drive in 31 runs over 84 games, injuries forced him out of most of the last two seasons (just 25 games combined), but Swihart seems to have come alive and found his swing again this Spring. He’s a natural catcher, but with Vazquez and Leon having that spot locked down, the Sox have been trying him all over the place, including 2nd, 3rd and left field. He hasn’t, however, looked completely comfortable at any of those spots, so I’d have to assume that Alex Cora is sort of unsure of what to do with him.
Brock Holt and Deven Marrero are his main competition, as the 3 of them are battling it out for 2 open roster spots, meaning one of them will most likely be gone when Opening Day rolls around. Marrero is the only natural SS of the bunch behind Bogaerts, so I’d say he’s safe. The issue with the other two is this: Swihart is out of options, so anything less than an MLB roster spot would see him most likely leave the club completely, and Holt (29 y/o) is too old and too experienced to justify a minor league assignment. Holt is more versatile and a better overall fielder than Swihart, but Swihart is better at the plate than Holt, so when it comes to those two it really is a toss up for the Opening Day roster.
There’s always the option of a trade. Perhaps Dave Dombrowski can leverage Swihart’s hot Spring or Holt’s track record to get another bullpen arm, a position of need with the uncertainty of Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, or even a starter to replace the injured Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright. And while I personally would hate to see such a promising young talent like Swihart leave, if the Sox can get someone looking for a utility man and/or catcher who are willing to overpay for him to fill that position of need, I think that it’s a move that they would have to make.
Update: After gearing some other peoples’ takes and thinking more about it, I’m going to go back on what I said a little bit. If one of the 3 guys mentioned in this post (Swihart, Holt, Marrero) has to go, I think it’s going to be Marrero. Although he’s the only natural SS behind Bogaerts, he’s clearly the least talented of the bunch, and I think that I didn’t give enough weight to the idea that Cora will be comfortable with Holt backing up Xander at SS.