MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

The Boston Red Sox will enter the offseason with a full plate. It would be even fuller if not for an important development behind the dish.

Catcher Christian Vazquez has been as advertised since earning his first major league call-up back on July 9. The Red Sox, who were forced to look for Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s replacement last offseason, will enter this winter knowing they have a backstop capable of being the Opening Day starter, which lightens the load for an organization that must make several key moves to return to contention in 2015.

“I think he’s ready and capable of handling that (starting) role,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. “I think what will be as important is who is paired up with him. That’s not to eliminate anyone that’s here. That’s not to suggest who that might be.

“Christian, I think, in short order, has gained a reputation around the league to be somewhat of a shutdown thrower with the aggressiveness of his picks, of his throws to bags. Like we said, he’s a focal point for a team, when they’re on offense, to have to contend with behind the plate.”

Vazquez’s defensive prowess is well-documented. He turned heads in spring training in both 2013 and 2014 through his shutdown ability, showcasing an array of skills — rocket arm, tremendous footwork and quick release — that were enough for some to question whether signing veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year contract in free agency was even necessary.

The question with Vazquez, of course, was whether he’d produce enough offensively. While a catcher can succeed in the majors with a defensive-centric skill set, there’s still a certain level of offensive production that’s to …read more