Red Sox deal Vázquez to Astros, land OF Pham

Bloom’s sights still firmly on the postseason, as the ‘puzzle is incomplete right now’

August 2nd, 2022

HOUSTON – In a surreal scene at Minute Maid Park late on Monday afternoon, Christian Vázquez was taking batting practice for the Red Sox just as the news surfaced that he had been traded to the Astros, Boston’s opponent the next three days.

The trade -- one of three chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made in the span of about an hour -- appeared to be proof the Red Sox turned into sellers to a degree as Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline loomed.

However, Bloom asked for the team’s full volume of moves to be assessed after the Deadline.

“We're trying to help the club,” said Bloom on a night the Red Sox beat the Astros, 3-2. “We still want to make the postseason, and we're also trying to make the right moves for the organization. So the puzzle is incomplete right now. Obviously, I don't have a crystal ball on everything that will happen in the next 20 hours, because we are only one part of deciding to make a trade. We need other teams to also want to do that. Our intent is to put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs.”

Bloom also added outfielder Tommy Pham in a trade with the Reds for a player to be named or cash and dealt lefty reliever Jake Diekman to the White Sox for Reese McGuire, who will share catching duties with Kevin Plawecki in Boston.

For Vázquez, the Red Sox got two prospects -- infielder/outfielder Enmanuel Valdez and outfielder Wilyer Abreu -- who were ranked No. 29 and 30 respectively, according to MLB Pipeline in Houston’s farm system.

Red Sox get:
 INF/OF Enmanuel Valdez, OF Wilyer Abreu
Astros get: C Christian Vázquez

Vázquez had been a core player and leader for the Red Sox – the team’s primary catcher since 2017. He is eligible for free agency at the end of the season.

“It’s been great playing with him. He’s been an unbelievable teammate. Probably one of my favorite teammates I’ve played with,” said Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, another candidate to be traded. “He’s a great all-around person in general. We’re going to miss him.”

Just a day earlier, Vázquez had spoken passionately about hoping Bloom would keep a veteran core together in hopes of a push for the postseason. The Red Sox are three games back in the American League Wild Card hunt. However, of the seven teams vying for three spots, Boston is tied with the White Sox for sixth in the standings.

The Sox, plagued by injuries and inconsistent play, went 8-19 in July while losing 13 of their last 16 games in the month.

Vázquez had the most tenure of any player in the Boston organization, getting drafted out of Puerto Rico in the ninth round of the 2008 Draft. He made his debut in ‘14 and caught the final pitch – a lethal slider by Chris Sale – in the ‘18 World Series clincher at Dodger Stadium.

“It’s very difficult,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Understanding that this is part of the business and we sign people, we trade people, I’ve been in this business for a while, even before I played. I lived it with my brother and lived it in my career. It’s part of it. I wish him the best. He’s going to a very good baseball team, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

This season for Boston, Vázquez slashed .282/.327/.432 with eight homers and 42 RBIs.

“There’s no question, obviously, that Christian is playing at a really high level right now, and moving him is going to impact [the Red Sox],” said Bloom. “We’re aware of that. This is one that I know hurts in the clubhouse. I’m very aware of that.”

In Pham, the Red Sox added some right-handed pop to an outfield that hasn’t had much production beyond Alex Verdugo. Pham is hitting .238 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs this season. That said, Pham will join the Red Sox in the midst of a slump. He hasn’t had a homer in his last 25 games and is hitless in his last 10 at-bats.

“Tommy's a really good Major League player,” said Bloom. “He's a good hitter. He manages an at-bat really well. And that's something that I think will be a huge benefit to our group. You know, he hits the ball hard, he knows the strike zone. He is a competitor. Excited to add him to our mix.”

McGuire (.225, no homers, 10 RBIs in 166 at-bats) is a left-handed bat the Sox can pair with the right-handed-hitting Plawecki at catcher. Plawecki moved into the lineup to replace Vázquez for Monday’s game. Vázquez did not start for Houston.

It will be interesting to see how the two prospects the Sox got for Vázquez evolve.

Abreu, 23, hit .249 while scoring 81 runs to go with 15 homers, 54 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 89 games for Double-A Corpus Christi this season.

Valdez, who is also 23, hit .327 with 21 home runs, 77 RBIs and a 1.016 OPS in 82 games split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land this season.