The focus the past few days of the MLB offseason has been on the catchers. A number of catchers have changed places over the last 48 hours, and former Red Sox and Astro Christian Vázquez falls in that category. Vázquez has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Twins, as Minnesota adds a former World Series champion to its lineup for 2023.
A Look At Vázquez
Christian Vázquez has been more of the game’s more consistent catchers since his debut in 2014. A two-time World Series champion, Vázquez has batted at least. 270 or more in four of his last six seasons. The 30-year old’s best season came in 2019, a year that saw Puerto Rican native hit 27 homers for the Red Sox. That total is an outlier, though, as Vázquez hasn’t topped 10 aside from that season.
Vázquez had a strong run with Boston in 2022, prior to being traded to the Houston Astros at the Trade Deadline. With Boston, Vázquez produced a .282/.327/.432 slash line and cracked 28 extra base hits over 84 games. After being dealt to Houston, the 30-year old split catching responsibilities with Martin Maldonado. Christian Vázquez had a 250/.278/.308 slash line across 108 PA with the World Series champions.
The new Twins catcher had above-average pop time and framing rankings in 2022. Offensively, Vázquez does a fair bit of chasing and doesn’t draw too many walks. Vázquez does, on the other hand, posses solid bat-to-ball skills. The former Sox catcher is a good contact hitter who consistently produces above-average strikeout and contact rates.
What it Means for the Twins
Minnesota has failed to receive meaningful production from both sides of the field at the catcher position since 2019. That season saw a combined 44 home runs hit between Jason Castro (13) and Mitch Garver (31). Since then, it’s been a weak point for Minnesota. Gary Sanchez was the Twins’ primary catcher last season, but produced a .205/.282/.377 slash line across 471 plate appearances.
The Twins will hope that the catching carousel ends with Vázquez, a steady hand that can provide stability both defensively and with the bat. No, don’t expect a 20-25 home run season from the former Red Sox and Astro. Vázquez is, however, a good contact hitter that should provide value for the Twins.
Catcher was a position that needed to be addressed for Minnesota this offseason. With Vázquez headed to the Twins, that job is done. Now that Minnesota has found its catcher for 2023, the Twins now have to settle the plan at shortstop for 2023. Carlos Correa remains on the market, and it is still possible that Minnesota re-signs the star infielder. The rumor mill surrounding Correa has churned in recent days, as a report from The Athletic indicated that the Twins have reportedly made a “massive offer” to 28-year old.
If Minnesota retains Correa for 2023, the Twins should be competitive in the AL Central. Minnesota was either at or near the top of division for most of last season, before faltering over the final eight weeks. The Twins do bring back a solid lineup that at this point includes Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Jose Miranda, and Max Kepler.