In a normal winter, the White Sox would have released their list of non-roster invitees a couple of weeks ago. In these uncertain times, the minor league veteran depth is coming in drips and drabs. A Tim Beckham here. A Nick Williams there. A clump of names from Baseball America’s minor league transactions, some of whom are merely returning organizational guys.
There hadn’t been a catcher in that group, somebody who might provide some veteran ballast behind Yasmani Grandal and three guys who might combine for one catcher between them.
That’s Jonathan Lucroy, who is only 34 years old, but feels like he’s 40 because he plummeted from “game’s best catcher” to “average at best” five years ago, and has been hanging on ever since. The White Sox will be his eighth organization over a five-year period.
Lucroy appeared in one game for the Red Sox last season, whom he joined on a minor-league contract after having offseason surgery to remove a herniated disk in his neck. He spent the bulk of the season at Boston’s alternate training site before being granted his release in September, after which he joined the Phillies.
He’d spent the previous year splitting time with the Angels and Cubs, and started for Oakland in 2018. Across those two seasons, he hit .237/.297/.338 over 782 plate appearances.
It’s hard to imagine Lucroy usurping Zack Collins and taking a spot on the 40-man at the start of the season, but he seems like somebody to have on hand should something happen to Grandal, just so somebody knows what they’re doing. God forbid something happens to Grandal.
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The White Sox unceremoniously dumped Luis Basabe after three inconsistent, injury-marred seasons in the organization, sending him to the Giants for cash in August. The move was a boon for Basabe, who made his MLB debut in September and went 2-for-14 with four walks and two stolen bases before his troublesome legs moved him to the injured list with a right hamstring strain.
Alas, Basabe might have to find another home for his next opportunity. The Giants designated him for assignment after making a trade with the Minnesota Twins, getting extra outfielder Lamonte Wade Jr. The Twins received Shaun Anderson, who shifted to relief last year and threw his slider more than half the time, and pairs it with a high-spin fastball. It’s a profile the Twins have had some success with, so be aware.
(Photo by forloveofbaseball / Flickr)
Well, it’s better than nothing. Still waiting for that Nomar Mazara signing.
I think they’d be just as likely to claim Basabe on waivers from SF. Nomar might be too pricey.
Am I missing something from that Baseball America link? I don’t see a single minor league veterarn signing/NRI for the White Sox listed there.
Nope. I had linked to the previous month’s transactions. The corrected link and there and here.
Since Alex McRae actually threw major league innings for the White Sox last year, I guess he should be counted as a veteran minor league pitching depth signing. And Marco Hernandez and Matt Reynolds do have some recent big league experience (though something will have gone horribly wrong if they are playing for the Sox this year), so there have been infielders signed, too.
While I will grant the Sox FO those early additions that will make the ChiSox a better team, this offseason is starting to have a “I know there must be a pony in here!” feel.
Lucroy signing and now Jerry Narron being added to the coaching staff this feels more like a coaching job for Lucroy then a possible backup assignment… maybe I am just wishful thinking these guys can show Collins and Mercedes enough to even have a chance behind the plate.
Narron’s hire seems to be specifically to upgrade Collins to acceptable. If the Sox release footage (video and audio) of Narron working with Mercedes, I will pay money to see how much Mercedes tests Narron’s patience.
Collins will be 26 in a few days. Can someone at that age be upgraded? Particularly at catching? I know there are cases, but they are far in between.
McCann credits Narron with his defensive improvement between leaving the Tigers and joining the Sox. He was a couple years older than Collins is now.
Good point but McCann was also an adequate defensive catcher before joining the Sox. Not an all-star, but playable. McCann’s transformation with the Sox was more with his bat than with his catching skills (I could be wrong). Collins needs work on both side of the spectrum.
Jim had a nice analysis of McCann’s game in 2018: “The one thing James McCann can do” (is throw). His defense got markedly better in Chicago.
I am hoping for improvements on Collins. We need that as he is the main backup catcher as of now. He is young enough.
Talk of the Rays being in on Ozuna. Gee you think maybe we could outspend the Rays.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict the Sox outspend the Rays this year. But at least they’ve got Blake Snell… oh wait, never mind.
I hope the new CBA has a minimum payroll threshold that teams must meet.
If the Rays get Ozuna, that will be the last straw. I’ve mostly sat back and let everyone on here bash Jerry for his cheapness this winter. It’s just not worth it getting angry about it. But after seeing what he hasn’t done in the last month while all the free agents are coming off the board, and his main competition (Yanks, Rays, Twins) all making big moves, I’ve just about had enough. Passing on Rosario and letting the even cheaper Indians sign him is really bad, especially when he can adequately fill a glaring need going into this year, and not impede Vaughn’s advancement in 2022. Now hearing that the Rays may be interested in getting Ozuna on a big 1-year deal, if Jerry can’t put up $20M for one year of Ozuna while the Rays could, that is the ultimate slap in the face to Sox fans. Please Jerry, either spend some of your great-great-great-great-great grandkids money, or sell to someone who will. Enough is enough.