(Second in a series: Over the coming weeks, we’ll be examining a specific positional area in the Red Sox minor league system, with an eye toward evaluating depth, impact and timetable for contributions. Today: catcher).
Current major league personnel: Christian Vazquez, the starter for the past few seasons, is signed for $6.25 million in 2021 and the club holds a team option on 2022 for $7 million, with a $250,000 buyout. Additionally, backup Kevin Plawecki, is salary-arbitration eligible. MLB Trade Rumors recently pegged his 2021 salary to be somewhere between $1.3-$2 million.
Overall: Vazquez remains a sold major league starter at the position, if not exactly an All-Star performer. He enjoyed a career year in 2019 with 23 homers, having never hit more than five in a single season previously. In 2020, Vazquez's power was far more streaky. Of his seven homers -- which would have roughly translated to 19 in a full season -- four came in the season's first week and the other three came over the final two weeks, with none in-between. Still though he's not without faults -- pitch-blocking is a particular weakness -- Vazquez profiles as a better-than-average receiver with a plus-plus throwing arm. And in Plawecki, the Red Sox have seemingly finally found a legitimate backup catcher who's capable of playing a couple of times per week, or, should the need arise because of injury, more regularly.
Acquired: In Mookie Betts/David Price trade with Los Angeles Dodgers, February 2020.
Timetable for arrival: 2022
Skinny: Wong is difficult to classify for the time being, not the least of which because, like former Red Sox prospect Blake Swihart, he didn't start to catch until relatively late in his development. While in the Dodgers system, Wong got some playing time at a number of other infield positions in the minors. Of course, with the 2020 minor league season wiped out due to the pandemic, Wong hasn't played in the minors for the Sox. But for now, the Red Sox want to see him further develop his catching skills. It's not lost on the Red Sox that he has considerable power (24 homers between Single A and Double A in 2019) and his versatility and athleticism could eventually make him a particularly useful roster piece. If Wong can work on his receiving and framing skills in 2021, he could inject himself onto the major league scene sooner rather than later.