D-backs add Swihart in trade with Red Sox
Versatile switch-hitter likely to play corner-outfield, corner-infield spots
CHICAGO -- Blake Swihart may not be an ideal fit on the D-backs' roster given the way it’s currently constructed, but when given the opportunity to acquire him, the team felt it couldn’t pass it up.
Swihart, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Tuesday, was acquired Friday evening in exchange for Minor League outfielder Marcus Wilson and $500,000 in international bonus pool money.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
“Trying to be opportunistic here,” D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. “Having the regret of liking a player and letting him pass because the roster didn’t line up perfectly, I don’t think we’re going to ever be a position where that should happen regularly for us.”
The 27-year-old is hitting .231/.310/.385 with one home run in 12 games this season after hitting .229/.285/.328 with three homers in 82 games for the World Series champions last year.
Swihart has a history with D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, who managed Swihart as interim skipper for Boston in 2015, when Swihart had his best big league season. Swihart also knows Hazen, who was in the Sox's front office when Swihart was drafted in '11.
Hazen said initially the team plans to move Swihart around, playing him some at the corner-outfield and corner-infield spots. There’s also the chance that he could see time at second base.
“We’ve liked Blake for a while,” Hazen said. “We think he has a chance to hit. We really like his bat, we love his versatility, he does a lot of things well on the field. We would anticipate he’ll move around a decent amount. Picking off days here and there. We’ll see where that heads long term. He probably won’t do a ton of catching right away. We want to try to give the bat a chance to play a little bit.”
The D-backs did not announce a corresponding roster move and won’t until Swihart arrives in Chicago either Saturday or Sunday.
Given that they don’t plan on using Swihart behind the plate initially, though, it appears the D-backs will stick with the three catchers they have in Carson Kelly, John Ryan Murphy and Caleb Joseph.
It isn’t that Swihart fits perfectly onto the 25-man roster, but for a team like the D-backs, who are looking to retool while also competing this year, they are still very much in talent-acquisition mode with position details to be figured out later.
“That’s the part we haven’t sort of figured out,” Hazen said of a future position for Swihart. “And I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. He’s made a ton of improvements catching. We like what he can do behind the plate, [but] that’s not an immediate need for us. We really like his bat and think he has a chance to hit, and so that’s why we acquired him.”
Adding talent to the organization was one reason the $500,000 in international bonus pool money was a key part of the deal.
“The international money was important to us to replace long-term [talent] underneath,” Hazen said. “We will be using that money that we acquired to sign players here shortly.”
Wilson was not an easy player for the D-backs to part with. Selected with a Competitive Balance Round B pick in 2014, the 22-year-old has improved as he’s moved up through the system.
Wilson was ranked the D-backs' No. 20 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and was hitting .235/.350/.529 with two home runs in 12 games at Double-A this season.