Backup Plan: Evaluating White Sox Options at Catcher Behind Grandal
While other offseason needs may be more pressing, the White Sox still need to figure out their backup catcher situation for 2021.
During the 2020 MLB season, the White Sox touted the best catching duo in the game with Yasmani Grandal and James McCann. Now that McCann will most likely strike a nice deal for himself in free agency, the club needs to figure out their backup option behind the dish.
Say what you want about McCann’s second-half struggles in 2019, but he was arguably the league’s best backup catcher this past season. Now, the White Sox are faced with a decision to be made. Do they attempt to fill this spot in the open market where there is an abundance of names north of 30 years old? Or do they give an opportunity to someone within the organization? Of course, there is the third option of striking a deal for someone, but with the current state of the club most would agree that any movement should be allocated toward right field and pitching needs.
Next season and beyond, you won’t see Grandal giving much time away aside from scheduled days off or unplanned injuries. So based on the White Sox options, how competent does this backup need to be? As of right now, the internal options are Zack Collins, Yermin Mercedes, and Seby Zavala. All of these names have their faults, really, every single player does, but are they worthy of being the team’s legitimate backup? Furthermore, are you, as a fan, comfortable having one of these guys as your number two in the playoffs? These are questions that need to be considered when evaluating this spot on the roster.
If you rank the free-agent catchers by WAR, J.T. Realmuto and McCann are at the top of the list. Again, most of the notable options are older backstops, but they wouldn’t warrant a large sum of money to play on a contending team. One name that seems a little more attractive than others is Curt Casali, in my opinion. The 32-year-old was just with the Cincinnati Reds where he caught a pitching staff that could be compared to that of the White Sox. While his bat isn’t as thunderous as McCann’s, he received high praise from Trevor Bauer throughout the season, so it’s evident that he could maintain the demands of the Sox starting staff.
Another name that could be a decent option, although he doesn’t have any ties to the White Sox right now, is former New York Met, Wilson Ramos. He played in 45 games in The Big Apple last year and hit a handful of homers with 15 RBIs. According to Baseball Reference, Ramos is projected to hit .269 with ten longballs and 45 driven in across 297 at bats. He, along with Casali, are both right-handed batters, which would free Grandal from having to turn around and hit the other way. Then the question becomes, is a right-handed Grandal better than either of these options?
These are just a few names that could be potential fits for the Sox as they make their push for a title. Of course, there are several factors that will go into this decision. Would you prefer the team put this portion of free agency dollars toward a bigger name in another spot and give one of the three internal options a shot? It’s certainly up for discussion as we await any sort of move this winter. To end with a quick fun fact, there are three former White Sox catchers on the market right now. Josh Phegley, Kevan Smith, and Tyler Flowers are all searching for a new gig somewhere.
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