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Red Sox sign Christian Vazquez to 3-year extension

The Red Sox have signed Christian Vazquez to an extension that will keep him in Boston at least through 2021.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox have signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year contract extension that will keep him under club control through the 2021 season. The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham broke news of the deal, which also includes a club option for 2022.

The extension won’t kick in until the start of the 2019 season; he’ll earn $2.85 million next season, $4.2 million in 2020, $6.25 million in 2021, and $7 million in 2022 (or a $250,000 buyout if the Red Sox decline the option). The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato broke the financial terms.

Vazquez, 27, is coming off the best offensive season of his career, during which he posted a .290/.330/.404 slash line with five homers over 345 plate appearances while splitting catching duties with Sandy Leon. 2017 was Vazquez’s first full season in the big leagues, but over 730 career plate appearances he has a .261/.311/.355 slash line with seven homers. While his offensive development has been encouraging, the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder has always been more highly regarded for his work behind the plate.

Vazquez is expected to continue sharing playing time with Leon for the immediate future, and the extension seems to be a solid indication that the Red Sox expect him to be a significant contributor for the next few years. They also have Blake Swihart, who at one point was considered to be a much better prospect than Vazquez but has been hobbled by injuries for the past two years. Swihart appears to have forced his way onto Boston’s roster this spring — mostly due to the fact that he’s out of options — but he’s expected to fill more of a utility role, seeing action at the corner infield spots and in left field this spring, and it doesn’t look likely that he’ll push for the starting catching role any time soon.