Starter: Christian Vasquez
The 24 year-old Puerto Rican backstop is the most logical candidate to step in as the John Farrell‘s everyday catcher in 2015. He has been lauded for his defensive ability and deserves an opportunity to prove whether or not he can be an offensive contributor. In 55 games with Boston last year he slashed .240/.308/.309, a step down across the board from his .279/.336/.385 line in Triple A Pawtucket.
But Vasquez has lightning quick reaction times behind the plate to gun down would be base stealers, and drew raves from members of the 2014 staff for his work in framing borderline pitches. But it remains to be seen if the Red Sox will value his defensive skills enough to make him the catcher of the future. 2015 represents his audition for that role.
Backup: Ryan Hanigan
Hanigan is not quite the tag team partner fans envisioned for Vasquez. Most pundits forecasted that the team would look for a left handed hitter with a good bat to play catcher, skills that would complement the tools Vasquez brings to the table. Instead, Ben Cherington turned to the veteran Hanigan to fill the shoes of recently departed grizzled backstop David Ross.
Acquired from the Padres for former top prospect Will Middlebrooks, Hanigan does make a lot of sense now that we know the strategy Cherington used in assembling his rotation. Hanigan is another catcher noted for his abilities to throw out runners, and frame pitches.
Just Missed: Blake Swihart
Starter: David Ortiz
If there was one player on the Red Sox who conceivably has better job security in 2015 than Dustin Pedroia, it’s Big Papi. I would say Pedroia is the team’s heart and soul, but Ortiz is the longest tenured player on the team and continues to provide the team with clutch power hitting even as he approaches his 40’s.
The 39-year-old mashed 35 homers last year, his highest total since 2007. On the other hand his batting average saw a precipitous drop off, .263 being his lowest number since his dreadful 2009 season. The end is in sight for Ortiz, and the team can’t continue to expect him to be their best hitter. I see know reason why next season can’t be another good one, but it likely won’t be great by his own lofty standards.