Blake Swihart has impressed many over the span of his young career. He launched out of the gates in Spring Training this year and solidified himself a spot on the Opening Day roster, entering 2018 with high hopes. It’s now May 10th, 36 games into the season, and Swihart has spent the majority of it withering away on Alex Cora’s bench.
Although with only 1 full MLB season under his belt, mostly as a role player, and only scattered appearances and at-bats since 2015, Swihart has hit a very respectable .263 in his career. In this past Spring Training, he blasted 3 home runs and 7 doubles for 11 RBI and impressed enough to warrant a roster spot as an “experimental” utility man. Red Sox Nation was abuzz with expectations of a potential breakout year for the youngster, and with a couple key starters struggling early on, his name was being thrown around as a guy who could possibly shake things up and add a spark to the bottom 1/3 of the order.
Since Opening Day, though, he’s made just 14 appearances (5 starts) for a measly 28 plate appearances, and it begs the question, what exactly is the Red Sox’ plan for him?
Once considered one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball, Boston has turned down trade offers for Swihart in the past, suggesting a commitment to his development. When Dustin Pedroia returns sometime within the next month or so, though, room needs to be cleared on the active roster, leaving Swihart and Brock Holt as the 2 likely candidates battling it out for that last spot. After battling a persistent head injury (among other things) for the last 2 years, Holt has been playing very well now that he’s healthy. One would assume that he has the upper hand over Swihart, but Swihart is now out of options, meaning he either needs to be traded or released if he’s the one to go.
With a lack of playing time, Swihart’s trade value is not nearly as high as the Red Sox would like. They could probably get another arm to help address the the inconsistencies in the bullpen for him, although there’s not much room for them to work with in the salary department, so it’s more likely that they’d seek a couple mid-level prospects instead.
There’s always the possibility of pairing him with an extremely underperforming Jackie Bradley, Jr. (who’s responsible for $6.1 million this year) to get an MLB ready replacement, or even keeping him and trading Sandy Leon (who’s also underperforming this year but has a higher trade value than Swihart) instead and allowing Swihart to remain with the big club.
The point is that there’s options, but Boston needs to decide how they feel about Swihart, what they envision for his future, and what they’re plan is for him, and up to this point those answers haven’t been made clear, at least to the public.