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In a trade of vestigial players solving very specific shortcomings, the White Sox traded their third catcher for the Boston Red Sox’s second lefty reliever.
Diekman comes to a White Sox team that is down to its Plan D, Tanner Banks, as the leading lefty in its bullpen. With Aaron Bummer out until September, Garrett Crochet out for the year and Bennett Sousa not ready for primetime, the 35-year-old Diekman gives the White Sox an experienced situational southpaw.
He comes to Chicago with major struggles in the control department, as he’s walked 30 batters and plunked six over 38⅓ innings. He’s mitigated the damage by striking out 51 batters, and he’s been just as effective as ever against lefties:
- vs. RHB: .212/.395/.447 over 114 PA
- vs. LHB: .188/.316/.250 over 57 PA
That part is key, because while Banks has been a pleasant surprise, he’s not somebody built to parachute into an inning against a lefty. In fact, he’s dealing with reverse splits in his rookie season:
- vs. RHB: .217/.294/.264 over 119 PA
- vs. LHB: .279/.311/.512 over 45 PA
Diekman is the better candidate for facing a lefty with two outs. He is a risk for walking that batter and bringing a righty to the plate, after which one has to hope that his veteran guile wins out.
As for McGuire, he didn’t seem likely to stick around unless Yasmani Grandal proved unable to catch. The combination of Grandal’s return and Seby Zavala‘s surprising surge limited McGuire to two starts since the All-Star break. Moreover, even if Grandal or Zavala were to get injured, Carlos Pérez represents a credible third-catcher option in Charlotte.
While McGuire only hit .225/.261/.285 during his 53 games with the White Sox, he did serve a purpose by giving Tony La Russa a credible glove-first option behind the plate while Grandal struggled to recover from the second of his knee surgeries. He was certainly a more useful option than Zack Collins, who’s hitting .160/.279/.352 over 42 games between Toronto and Triple-A Buffalo.
McGuire became expendable more because Seby Zavala decided to hit .296/.340/.539 over 30 games with the White Sox after Grandal was sidelined by back spasms. Zavala’s 29-percent strikeout rate is still cause for concern when it comes to his sustainability, but with Zavala and McGuire both out of options — and Zavala years away from being arb-eligible — retaining him was the easy call.
It’s also a better opportunity for McGuire, because the Red Sox opened a catching spot on their 26-man roster by trading Christian Vazquez to the Astros, although that deal is unfolding in an awkward fashion:
Speaking of retaining, Diekman has another year after this one for $3.5 million, followed by a $4 million option for Diekman in 2024. Hopefully the control improves to make Diekman less of a burden.
Earlier in the day, the White Sox were connected to Tigers lefty Andrew Chafin by Ken Rosenthal. It’s possible the Sox could acquire both and relegate Banks to Charlotte, but that’d probably be a suboptimal use of resources.