Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal is nearing a return from the injured list. With the All-Star break quickly coming to a close, he will likely be back on the South Side as soon as this weekend. This creates a difficult decision for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and manager Tony La Russa.
In Grandal’s absence, Seby Zavala has been more than serviceable. The 28-year-old backstop is hitting .286/.337/.440 with seven doubles, two home runs, and 15 RBIs in 93 plate appearances. Those figures represent a marked improvement over his 2021 stint in the big leagues. Arguably, Zavala’s play calls for a longer look up with the team. That is a good thing.
Back on July 15, La Russa was asked if Zavala’s performance was enough to warrant an extended look once Grandal returns to the big-league club. The Sox skipper didn’t give a telling answer one way or the other.
The biggest obstacle standing in Seby Zavala’s way of potentially spending the rest of the 2022 season with the White Sox is Reese McGuire.
McGuire, who was acquired prior to the season in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, doesn’t have any minor-league options remaining on his contract. Halfway through the 2022 season, he has slashed .228/.265/.290 across 160 plate appearances. While he has collected nine doubles, McGuire hasn’t been able to find his power stroke and has zero home runs to this point. That leaves him with just those nine extra-base hits and only 10 RBIs on the year.
McGuire is also nearing his career-high in games played (78) with 51 appearances so far this season. He has done this while carrying his worst career offensive numbers if you remove the COVID-19 shortened season in which he only appeared in 19 games and slashed .073/.073/.146. While serviceable in a backup role, McGuire leaves plenty to be desired.
With Yasmani Grandal’s return on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the White Sox handle their three backstops. Like Reese McGuire, Seby Zavala is also out of minor-league options.
Should the White Sox choose to carry all three catchers, it will leave an odd man out elsewhere. With a logjam at DH already forcing infielders into outfield spots, it is difficult to see where there will be enough at-bats for the catcher trio with the big-league club.
What the Chicago White Sox elect to do when Grandal returns will have some lasting ramifications. Potentially parting ways with McGuire or Zavala shortens the depth chart behind the oft-injured Grandal. Optioning a position player with options such as Jake Burger or Gavin Sheets would remove some pop from the big-league club. Dropping a bullpen arm could place additional strain on the top relievers.
Let’s see how this all shakes out.
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