In search of a backup catcher this off season, the Boston Red Sox did not intensely pursue David Ross, but instead they took a broken player and traded him for a defensive minded backup catcher.
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Swapping third baseman Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Hanigan, the Red Sox and Padres each filled a void on one another’s rosters, but it already looks like Boston won on the deal.
Receiving just what they needed, the Red Sox got a catcher to mentor rookie starter Christian Vazquez and spend a good chunk of time behind the plate. While his bat lags behind, Hanigan is excellent behind the plate as he has gunned down 38% of runners who have tried to steal off of him in his big league career. Also, he rarely boots a ball— committing just two errors in the past two seasons.
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The Andover, Massachusetts native has two more years left on his contract, but Boston has the luxury of dealing him if they are confident in top catching prospect Blake Swihart since Hanigan is relatively cheap for a veteran backup catcher.
On the other hand, Will Middlebrooks just does not have the plate discipline necessary in order to sustain a successful big league career. Striking out roughly five more times than he walks, there is no way pitchers will be able to respect Middlebrooks enough to throw him decent pitches to hit.
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He is way too aggressive at the plate and pitchers discovered his Achilles’ Heel in August 2012. Since then, he is a .212 big league hitter with an atrocious .266 OBP. No matter how many home runs he can hit, there is no way Middlebrooks will be able to sustain himself as a full-time big leaguer.
Working against Middlebrooks will be his home field disadvantage. Playing half of his games at Petco Park, the most pitcher friendly park in the league, hitting home runs will be more difficult for him than it was before. He’s not in Boston anymore.
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