Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate CHGO Sports Community!

Among many needs, White Sox looking to improve at catcher, though how remains unknown

Vinnie Duber Avatar
December 5, 2023
Martín Maldonado

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The White Sox have a lot to get done this winter.

Just ask Chris Getz.

It doesn’t mean the first-year general manager is anticipating a ton of activity before the Winter Meetings wrap up Wednesday. Heck, he said Monday that his front office wasn’t close to completing anything, and the meetings, in general, have been mostly inactive across the sport.

But it’ll be a busy offseason before it’s all said and done, on the South Side especially, considering the sheer volume of additions Getz needs to make to get his team ready for Opening Day.

“Every day you wake up, you’re looking to better your club. And quite honestly, I’m obsessed with that,” Getz said Monday. “(When you) talk about Winter Meetings and accomplishing stuff while we’re here, it’s possible. We’ve got months before we get to spring training, and we’re going to look for every opportunity to improve the club. And there’s different ways to go about that.

“We need to fill out our rotation and feel good about it. We need to have depth underneath it. In the bullpen, you’ve got to have depth. Both at Double-A, Triple-A, what you’re hoping for is (players) knocking at the door to become an option at some point. We talked about the defense and improving the catching position and maximizing that area, along with other areas around the diamond.

“We have time, and I look forward to continuing to get back to work and trying to find ways to improve this.”

Yes, there’s time, just like there’s no rule saying teams have to make deals during the few days when the baseball world gathers each December for in-person conversations.

But again, there’s a lot to do.

Let’s focus on just one of those expressed needs for the time being and what could happen at the catcher position.

The White Sox are without the two guys that played the most games behind the plate for them in 2023, with Yasmani Grandal’s four-year contract up and Seby Zavala jettisoned midseason.

There’s reason for the White Sox to believe in a bright future after acquiring Edgar Quero at the trade deadline, though the 20-year-old remains a good deal away from the major leagues, with Getz saying Monday that he expects Quero to be at the upper levels of the minor leagues next season. Korey Lee got a good deal of run in September after he was acquired at the trade deadline and received strong reviews from Getz and Pedro Grifol.

But is Lee, who’s spent little more than that month in the majors, ready to handle the workload of a No. 1 catcher? Or would the White Sox prefer he continue to learn the ropes from a more established veteran who could help mold what could be a very young pitching staff?

That question didn’t come with a definitive answer Monday, but it’s clear the White Sox want to do something to improve the catcher position. Unsurprisingly, given Getz’s declared objectives this offseason, it involves finding someone with some defensive prowess.

“You are looking for someone that can come in here and defensively handle the position, game calling, and really have that presence that is needed at that position,” Getz said. “We’ve got some talent behind the plate. We have some talent coming in our system, as well.

“So we are certainly looking at ways to improve our present situation, and there’s different ways to go about it. Just like anything else, the pace in which that happens is a bit unknown, but we are certainly seeking to improve that area.”

Getz did little to help in the guessing game of figuring out which way the White Sox will go, but it’s safe to say there will be some sort of addition at the position. They could find the help they need via trade, sure, but that’s difficult to forecast. So if we’re going to winnow the entirety of catchers down to a few options, we can look at the free-agent market, guys we know are available and who could fit what the White Sox are looking for.

Austin Hedges, Victor Caratini, Tucker Barnhart, Eric Haase and Martín Maldonado all strike as possibilities given their defensive reputations.

Maldonado sticks out not only because of his championship-level success with the Astros, but he’s also got history working with Grifol during a brief stop in Kansas City and spent time mentoring Lee in Houston. Reportedly, the White Sox have interest in signing him, as do other teams.

None besides Haase come with the promise of much offensive impact — though his numbers fell off a cliff from 2022 to 2023 — and several have been so woeful with the bat that they’re well familiar with life below the Mendoza Line. That, though, might not be too big an issue for Getz, who continues to emphasize defense. Haase’s offensive contributions make him jump out in that group, though, and White Sox fans need little reminder of the damage he’s done during a career spent entirely in the AL Central.

Lee is so inexperienced and, despite a positive view, not the highly ranked prospect Quero is, so it’s difficult to figure out how he would stack up against any of these guys. Lee struggled mightily with the bat during his time in the bigs in 2023, but that was a mighty small sample size.

So would any of those five free agents be a no-doubt starter over Lee? Would any sit behind Lee on the depth chart? It’s hard to say at this point, and that might be what spring training is for.

But this is a start given what we know, that the White Sox are looking for a catcher this winter.

They’re looking for a lot more, too.

Get Our Best Sox Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago White Sox fan with Vinnie Duber's Sox Newsletter!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?