The historic London Series is only a matter of days away. So to get you in the mood, here is the Bat Flips and Nerds player preview for the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox catchers who will be coming over to the UK at the end of the month.
- Team: Boston Red Sox
- Height: 190cm (5’ 9”)
- Age: 28
- Bats: Right-handed
- From: Puerto Rico
- 2019 salary: $2.85 million (signed a four-year, $15 million deal for 2018-21)
After a disappointing 2018, Christian Vázquez found his stroke and has established himself as Boston’s primary catcher, making about two-thirds of the team’s starts behind the plate.
Defensively, the 28-year-old from Puerto Rico is one of the best catchers in MLB, so the fact that he has hit seven home runs with a decent average is a bonus for the Red Sox.
At only 5’ 9” he is short for a catcher. In fact, the Yankees do not have anyone else as short as Vázquez on their 40-man roster.
The Puerto Rican splits catching duties with Sandy León, a 30-year-old Venezuelan switch-hitter with a career .226 batting average.
Despite their World Series heroics, Red Sox catchers combined for a woeful 44 wRC+ last season, but their shortfalls with the bat are more than made up for with their calm, veteran presence behind the plate.
- Team: New York Yankees
- Height: 188cm (6’ 2”)
- Age: 26
- Bats: Right-handed
- From: Dominican Republic
- 2019 salary: $0.67 million (pre-arbitration eligible)
There are bat-first catchers, and there are glove-first catchers. Gary Sánchez is undoubtedly the former. In fact, only four players (regardless of position) have hit more home runs than him this season.
On a different team, Sánchez would be an excellent first baseman or designated hitter, but as the primary catcher for the Yankees, the 26-year-old gives an extra dimension not available to any of the other 29 teams. His power potential eclipses the occasional defensive error.
Like teammate Aaron Judge, Sánchez will not reach arbitration until 2020, so he is on a bargain salary of $684K, but even if the Yankees could spend $20 million on a catcher, there is not another player they would rather have behind the plate.
When Sánchez needs a day off or shifts to DH, Austin Romine gets the nod. Romine, whose father played in the majors for the Red Sox, has a career .606 OPS but makes up for his lack of offensive threat by great work behind the plate. He is a solid, reliable backup to Sánchez’s sometimes erratic play.
Watch out for the rest of our player profiles and make sure you follow @BatFlips_Nerds on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all of the latest London Series news.