White Sox land true backup catcher, acquire Reese McGuire for Zack Collins

After the White Sox traded for AJ Pollock to shore up their outfield, the only thing they lacked was a defined backup catcher behind Yasmani Grandal.

After acquiring Reese McGuire from Toronto this afternoon, Rick Hahn has checked all the boxes on the position-player side of the ball.

The White Sox acquired the defense-first McGuire from the Blue Jays in exchange for Zack Collins, which gives Tony La Russa a comfortable everyday option in the event of a Grandal injury.

McGuire, a first-round pick from the 2013 draft, took a circuitous route to the majors. His career got a boost after the Pirates traded him to the Blue Jays, with whom he settled into a backup role starting in the second half of the 2019 season.

He had a chance to win the starting job, but an awful 2020 and a slow start to 2021 put him in time-sharing situation with Danny Jansen, who ended up being the preferred choice. Later in the year, the amusingly shaped Alejandro Kirk provided a louder bat. That had McGuire caught in between as he entered the spring without options, so by trading him for Zack Collins, the Blue Jays picked up a catcher they could send to Triple-A.

McGuire is a career .248/.297/.390 hitter, although the lefty is .278/.329/.431 against righties. More importantly, he’s a plus defender behind the plate, with above-average framing and throwing numbers in the two seasons where he’s had any kind of significant sample.

That solves what had been a murky mess in the catching ranks. Collins would’ve been playable behind the plate if his power-and-patience profile translated to the big leagues, but after hitting .195/.315/.330 with just seven homers over 114 MLB games, it made the all-around below-averageness behind the plate much more glaring. Seby Zavala stepped in and provided a more praiseworthy receiver and game-caller, but his issue with passed pitches and holes in the strike zone created plenty of problems of their own.

Zavala is out of options, so the White Sox might have to try to pass him through waivers by the end of spring. They have a decent catching tandem of Carlos Pérez and Nick Ciuffo penciled in for Charlotte, so unlike Micker Adolfo’s unfavorable numbers situation, Zavala’s doesn’t resonate as much.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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As Cirensica

Solid move just by getting rid of Collins.

jhomeslice

Yeah, it’s hard to believe they managed to get a backup catcher for him, considering Collins is also a catcher, and a rather bad one.

calcetinesblancos

Has to be fun to learn an entire new pitching staff a few days before the season starts.

I’ll be rooting for Zack> Happy to see him get a change of scenery.

MrStealYoBase

Crochet + a flier for Montas. Who says no?

A’s have not shied away from acquiring guys with injury histories/need TJ. Would effectively be 3.5 years of Crochet (after TJ recovery) for 2 years of Montas right now.

Sox need another starter like they need water to live.

TylerDurden

Interesting…Crochet won’t be in rotation next year now…and will be limited in 23.
Even if goes to rotation in 2024 it would be an inning limit season as well. He’s not throwing 160inn.

All I know is Hahn better get someone

GrabSomeBench

NO

HallofFrank

The A’s say no—quickly, I’d think. 3.5 years of Crochet for 2 years of years sounds wildly unbalanced even before Crochet’s injury. Montas was a 4 win pitcher last year. For Montas, you’re looking closer to Jose Quintana value than Manaea or Gray. I’d think you’d need to add at least Montgomery and Jose Rodriguez to Crochet, and I’m not sure that’s enough.

texag10

I mean, I’m not saying the A’s would say yes but Montas has had two seasons that you could call good and he’s been pretty bad the rest of his career. No team that’s trading for him should have an expectation similar to Quintana or else they are most likely going to be disappointed.

HallofFrank

Uh, what? Except for his rookie season and the pandemic year, he’s been excellent his entire time in Oakland—he’s just dealt with injuries. In ’19 & ’21 he was especially excellent, and these are the most important data points for his future projections. In ’19, he put up 3 fWAR in 98 IP. That’s ace-like upside, and a level Q didn’t have.

But to be clear: I didn’t say he was as valuable as Q when Q was traded. He’s not. But he’s closer to Q in value than Manaea (or Sonny Gray). And it’ll take more than even a healthy version of Crochet to get him.

a-t

Yeah the A’s laugh and hang up the phone at that. Crochet is currently an injured reliever whose next fully healthy year will be his Arb-1 year. He has shown he has the raw stuff to blow away major league hitters, but everyone knew that. What he has not shown is the command, stamina, repertoire depth, or especially durability required to start… and about to have TJS is not gonna help.

texag10

Yeah, two good seasons in 2019 and 2021 and the remaining 3 years he has -0.6 bWAR. I don’t understand what’s confusing about the fact that he has not proven to be a 4 WAR player and shouldn’t be treated as such. Any time that is trading for a player on the hopes they hit their 90th+ percentile outcome is going to be disappointed.

a-t

Do not look at bWAR, nor before 2019 is the short answer. He broke out in 2019, 2020 was the pandemic year in which a huge number of players performed far outside their norms (see: McCann, James), 2021 was him backing up the breakout in 2019. The difference between his numbers and Giolito’s is that Gio was healthy for nearly his whole breakout 2019 and the Mickey Mouse year didn’t affect him, and we don’t doubt Gio’s ability.

a-t

position player group is pretty damn solid. though if Harrison looks cooked, imma want to see an upgrade at 2B midseason.

since Hahn’s speech about focusing on pitching depth, his position player group has improved considerably but his pitching staff is down two relievers and a healthy right knee. manaea is off the board unfortunately, albeit at least to the NL, but i’d hope the search for rotation depth is continuing anyways

vince

If Hahn manages to acquire another starter what are we going to complain about?

As Cirensica

Oh…we’ll find something

a-t

I’m still a little annoyed they didn’t give either give Escobar slightly more money than the Mets did, or trade slightly more for Adam Frazier, but Harrison/Leury at 2B feels like a moderately better plan now that Leury will almost certainly not be called upon to play OF much

dwjm3

Second base for starters ….we are rolling out two utility players there

vince

I can live with our current 2B options.

dwjm3

I can’t…There was serious quality available in free agency this year

Last edited 2 months ago by dwjm3
jhomeslice

Agreed. Hopefully Harrison plays like he did in 2021 with the Nats and not the A’s. The upgrade to OF makes their 2b situation more tolerable though.

md03

Easy, Tony

Last edited 2 months ago by md03
Willardmarshall

That seemed… easy.

As Cirensica

So Lynn is having knee surgery and out for 8 weeks…that’s not optimal. Sox without Lynn don’t look so powerful now. I think Hahn needs to be creative. I wonder what it would take to bring Luis Castillo into the fold.

Joliet Orange Sox

What’s the source for the increase from 4 weeks out to 8 weeks out?

dwjm3

He can start throwing off the mound after 4 weeks so he will need some time to ramp up

Joliet Orange Sox

Thank you for the clarification. I had only heard out that he was out 4 weeks and didn’t realize that was when he could start throwing off a mound.

Augusto Barojas

So barring a trade, do they consider trying to get Cueto on a 1 year? I don’t know if anybody else is left, he would almost certainly be better than Lopez/Velasquez.

Their bullpen is going to get a LOT of work early in the season. Kopech, Keuchel, Velasquez/Lopez. Not going to get many 5 inning starts from any of those guys unless Kopech builds his arm strength sooner than we expect.

itaita

It was 4 weeks before he can start throwing on the mound. So he will require some rampup.

As Cirensica

James Fegan was my source

peanutsncrackerjack

If this solves the knee problem I’m good with a Lynn going into the playoffs with extra 8 weeks rest.

calcetinesblancos

Good point. This happening now could end up being a blessing.

jhomeslice

Wow, that totally blows. They finally upgrade at OF and get a backup catcher, and lose Crochet for the year and Lynn for 2 months. I hope they don’t overpay for a starter, but obviously they have more of a need than they did two days ago. Painful as it is, Lopez is probably in the rotation for the time being. Not looking forward to that.

shaggy65

BOOM! I called a trade for McGuire in my OPP! What do I win?!

Here’s what I wrote at the time:

McGuire is a back-up catcher in his prime with good defensive metrics–including a strong throwing arm–and four years of team control. James McCann 2.0, anyone? Maaaaybe has long-term starter upside as a former 1st Rd pick. Toronto likes their starting catcher and also has a couple promising mlb-ready prospects, so they can spare him.

I honestly can’t believe the Sox got anything of value for Collins, much less a viable MLB player with controlled years, but TOR had a roster crunch and must not have had any other offers.

As Cirensica

Toronto also have Gabriel Moreno. McGuire had no future in the Jays’ organization

Last edited 2 months ago by As Cirensica
Foulkelore

Good job, shaggy. He’s also not awful hitting against RHP (though keep him far away from any LHP). I really like this move.

StockroomSnail

I’m surprised nobody has discussed McGuire….uh… playing an intense solo?… in a dollar store parking lot.

StockroomSnail

If, for nothing else, the jokes.

Foulkelore

LuBob DuRob has a great Silence of the Lambs Multiple Miggs joke in the earlier Lance Lynn article.

calcetinesblancos

I honestly feel sorry for the guy and wonder what his living situation was at the time. I didn’t get the impression from the article I read that the cops thought he was directing his uh, whatever towards anyone or thought he was threatening anyone in particular.

Also, maybe he just thought that was normal Florida behavior lol.

StockroomSnail

I think you’re giving him more benefit of the doubt than me but i don’t know all the details.

calcetinesblancos

I think you have to keep in mind that repeatedly violent people, convicted child molesters, and all sorts of truly awful people get a slap on the wrist every day in this country, if they face any punishment at all. So with that in mind, I think this guy who didn’t hurt anyone deserves to pay the fine and move on with his life.

jhomeslice

I suppose a guy who is not “master of his domain” is better than the Japanese guy on the Yankees who was known for his extensive porn collection?

BenwithVen

I’m glad they actually addressed backup C. Writing was on the wall for Collins, but the Blue Jays have a good track record of taking cast offs and turning them into solid offensive players.

I’m also guessing Grandal is going to see more time at DH this year. Which is definitely a good thing.

dongutteridge

Burger, Romy and Kelley for Montas.

a-t

That’s just not nearly enough for Oakland

soxygen

McGuire seems like a substantial upgrade defensively. Give the FO credit for some good value, late offseason moves.

Pollock was a great value back for Kimbrel, but his arm is so weak out there that it is hard to see him sticking in right even if he is able to stay healthy.

A lot can happen during the season, and he’d be a welcome option in LF or at DH if the lineup can accommodate that…but opposing teams will be taking a lot of extra bases on a guy who seems to have trouble getting the ball back into shallow RF even when his body momentum is behind the throw. That said, it’s spring training…hopefully he’ll look stronger out there in a few weeks. And maybe there are more moves yet to come -certainly, the Sheets/Vaughn/Adolfo/Engel logjam creates some opportunities to reshuffle.

I watched a fair bit of NL baseball during the past decade (due to having spent ‘06-‘19 in an NL city) and AJ’s defense is a real weakness – I think a lot of AL fans base their casual assessment of his D on recollections of past glory, but he has been a liability out there for several years in a row.

Last edited 2 months ago by soxygen
670WMAQtheElder

The other problem with AJ is that he’s never played RF. How about flipping him to the Padres, who really need a LF, for Snell? Micker plays RF. Plus there will be a lot of waiver action this week, so maybe some other options for RF show up.

BenwithVen

I’m confident in AJ Pollock learning to navigate RF than Micker having a k% below 40%

dwjm3

Furthermore, I’m more confident in a guy that was a 3 win player last year than a guy that has been in the minor leagues for 6 plus years.

jhomeslice

They FINALLY get a RF, and you want to flip him a week later? God no! It’s not hard for a guy who has played plenty of CF to play RF. I mean that’s better than Vaughn or Sheets, who are not even real outfielders.

Micker is out of options. They can trade him.

soxygen

I think it can be hard for a guy with no arm to play right field. That specific tool matters in RF. Also, he was among the worst defensive left fielders in baseball last year, and has been rated as having one of the weakest outfield arms in all of major league baseball. We’ve only seen two games, but he looks like a liability out there. Love the bat, and great value return for Kimbrel, but a right fielder he ain’t…

dwjm3

I doubt he will play exclusively in right field. He will probably play in left from time to time as we know Eloy will probably spend some time on the IL. He might give Robert a blow one day. We can also use Engel as a defensive replacement for him late in games.

The key is AJ Pollock allows us to roll a lot of different lineup permutations that make our team better as a whole. It is important to look at these guys as a collective not just their individual skill set.

soxygen

I agree with that. The thing I’d add though is that you need 9 guys on the field every day and have a limit of 26/28 on the active roster. So if he isn’t the every day right fielder then that means that there is more roster work to be done.

BenwithVen

I’d be willing to bet he’s still better than Castellanos and Schwarber out there. It’s even questionable that Conforto would be much of an upgrade with all the injuries he’s been dealing with the past 12 months.

a-t

Conforto is legitimately a bad defender in right. I personally prefer Pollock… and the projections disagree only bc of Pollock’s age & bc they don’t fully trust his late-career offensive revival.

jhomeslice

A week ago we were slated to have Vaughn, Sheets, Engel. Engel is the only one who Pollock is not better than defensively. He may not be perfect in RF but he is better than what they had, by a lot. Weak arm or not.

Wayne
  • Eloy has an Arm for RF, but I am sure none of us want to see that.
  • Pollack’s below average arm strength may be aslight concern (Engel’s arm is below a RF as well, but may be stronger than Pollock).
  • Having an OF instead of 1B in RF (Sheets and Vaugnn) is a positive step
  • I like to see Adolfo get a shot. His minor league stats are better against RHP, but I could see him as a platoon with Sheets. But Adolfo plays RF when in lineup, whereas Sheets at 1B/DH.
a-t

Pollock was not remotely near being one of the worst defensive LFs in baseball? Where are you getting that? He was slightly above average by DRS, slightly below average by UZR, and perfectly average by OAA.

His weak arm is not ideal, but I don’t care much because his diminished but still plus speed will have him getting to many more balls than Vaughn or Sheets would.

soxygen

It doesn’t need to be an argument. His arm sucks. Go back and look at his first throw to 2nd in the April 2 game versus the D-backs. He two hopped it. I remember seeing a piece online once that was something like “build the worst player in baseball” and the arm was AJ Pollock. It is bad.

Yes, by some measures he was an average left fielder last year. But given that his weakness is actually important in RF it could be an issue…we’ll just have to see how it plays…fortunately it’s just a game!

gibby32

Flipping AJ to the Padres for Snell—-oh, hell—-for Manaea makes sense to me. Even before Lynn went down, starting pitching was more of a need than RF. And while Pollock is a nice player, the concern about him playing right is valid. As to the Micker plays right point, I agree with those who say that is unlikely to work. But during April, the team can carry 28. They could decide to carry Micker and give him enough playing time to see if he can stick. If not, the team is back to Vaughn-Sheets-Engel in right, which I am ok with staring the year.

BenwithVen

I mean you can’t say you have concerns with Pollock in right and be ok with Vaughn/Sheets/Engel in RF. That doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Last edited 2 months ago by BenwithVen
soxygen

Vaughn/Sheets could be worse. That wasn’t the point. The point was whether Pollock is an everyday right fielder, and whether his arm will be a detriment to run prevention. Offensively, he’s a big step up if healthy. As a trade return he was good (though it is possible that the Dodgers, who have seen his defense up close, have a lower assessment of his value). But defensively he is not much of an upgrade at all. We did not trade for 2012-2015 AJ Pollock. 2022 AJ Pollock is probably not going to be a good right fielder.

Last edited 2 months ago by soxygen
gibby32

Context is important. I said that I was ok with Vaughn-Sheets-Engel in right to “start” the year”. I am ok with Pollock also. I prefer Pollock to Vaughn and Sheets, but prefer Engel to Pollock defensively. So, overall, which I would prefer would depend upon how much time Engel spent out there. The implicit question was: can we address starting pitching by trading Pollock. I would be happy to do so. Perhaps before you say something “doesn’t make a lick of sense”, you should contemplate the context of the comment.

Willardmarshall

When an option is coin of the realm….