Understanding Early MLB Trade Deadlines Red Sox Begin Review

Tomase: Understanding Vazquez, Pham, Diekman deals as Red Sox begin review originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Quick reaction to the news that the Red Sox have traded starting catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros, while they are nearing a deal for Reds Outfielder Tommy Pham and White Sox Catcher Reese McGuire…

First of all, this had to happen, and there should be more moves like this before Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline. The Red Sox aren’t a World Series threat, and they’re uniquely positioned to recognize that fact with a half-dozen potentially playoff-altering hires on the roster.

Vazquez was one of their most desirable brands, a World Series champion in the midst of an outstanding season. He’s hitting .282 with eight homers and 42 RBI, but those numbers don’t tell the story of his transformation since early May. Starting a two-game stretch in Atlanta that also marked the start of the team’s (temporary, as it turned out) turnaround, Vazquez is hitting .299 with an .808 OPS and all but one of his home runs.

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The longest-tenured member of the organization — he was drafted in 2008 — is extremely popular in the clubhouse, where this news will not be received with enthusiasm. Reporters in Houston captured teammates comforting him as he left the field during batting practice.

That said, with a brutal schedule remaining and seven teams ahead of them in the wild-card race, the Red Sox would be better served long-term by selling now. Left-hander Rich Hill has already been scratched from Wednesday’s start for reasons manager Alex Cora would not share, and JD Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi could also be on the block.

The Red Sox put themselves in this position by losing 19 games in July after winning 20 games in June, and it’s ugly to think about what’s next. There’s always a chance Vazquez will re-sign this fall when he hits free agency, but usually players in his situation find a new home.

In the short term, Kevin Plawecki becomes the starting catcher, with McGuire coming from the White Sox for left-hander Jake Diekman in a separate deal. However, neither is a viable everyday solution for 2023, so expect the Red Sox to be in the market for a catcher this winter.

McGuire is a former Blue Jays prospect with a strong arm and decent pitching skills. Aside from a Sandy Leon-esque hot streak when he was called up by the Jays last year, he hasn’t done much offensively at any level since being drafted 14th overall by the Pirates in 2013. He’s hitting .225 with the White Sox this year and . 241 for his career.

As for Pham, he has previously influenced a race on behalf of Chaim Bloom. The Red Sox’s chief baseball officer was in Tampa when Pham arrived in 2018 and helped the Rays win 90 games, though they fell short of the playoffs.

2022 MLB Player Tracker: Record every trade before the deadline

He has posted numbers that almost exactly double those of Alex Verdugo, hitting .238 with 11 homers and 39 RBI. Like Verdugo, the 34-year-old Pham is a full-time left fielder, though he played center regularly as recently as 2018.

In some corners, the Vazquez and Pham deals are being cited as an example of the Red Sox buying and selling, but I don’t see it, at least not yet. Replacing your starting catcher, who is playing at an All-Star level, with a carbon copy of a middle outfielder already on your roster is not an even trade.

Let’s hold off on these sweeping judgments until after the deadline and see who else Bloom has traded away.

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