The White Sox are set at nearly every position accept backup catcher. Right now it is a three man race between Zack Collins, Seby Zavala and Yermin Mercedes. Collins has the inside track on the race but another contender has thrown his hat in the ring. On Thursday Robert Murray of Fansided reported that the White Sox had signed free-agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a minor league contract.
Source: Jonathan Lucroy in agreement with the Chicago White Sox, pending physical.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) February 4, 2021
What are the White Sox getting in Lucroy?
If this was 2016 the White Sox would be getting on of the best backstops in baseball. He made the All-Star team in 2014 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. He batted .301 and led the league with 53 doubles. Lucroy even finished 4th in the NL MVP voting. He returned to the All-Star game in 2016 and had a career best 24 home runs that season. Unfortunately the 34 year old’s hitting production has deteriorated. He has bounced around the league with short stints with the Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics,Los Angeles Angles and the Chicago Cubs. Since his All-Star season he has batted .254/.319/.348 with 10 home runs in 935 plate appearances.
Hitting was not the only reason he ranked among the games best catchers. Lucroy was an elite pitch framer. Those skills have also slowly began to dissolve. In 2018 he led American League catchers with 10 errors. Last season he only appeared in just one game during the shortened season. He played two inning for the Boston Red Sox but was unable to make a trip to the plate. He also spent some time with the Phillies but rode the pine and did not see any playing time. He has complied quite the jersey collection as the White Sox will be his eighth team since 2017.
Now he will find himself in a battle for a job with former first round draft pick Zach Collins. Collins is still seen as the front runner for the job. He has yet to get a real opportunity in the big leagues. He only has 120 plate appearances under his belt. His last full season in the minors was in 2019 where he complied 19 homers and reached base at an efficient .403 clip in 88 game in Triple-A Charlotte. Like Lucroy defense is a big question mark for Collins.
Lucroy is a cheap option that adds some veteran experience and dependability to the situation. While his recent numbers have been ugly he still has a wealth of knowledge being in the league for as long as he has. Worst case senecio he loses the job but Zack Collins Yermin Mercedes will also get a shot to compete for a job.
The Yerminator has the longest odds to secure the second spot on the depth chart however. He has spent limited time in the big leagues and with the White Sox in win now mode they don’t have time for experiments behind the plate. Mercedes does add some versatility. During White Sox summer camp he could be seen taking reps in left field and third base. He did launch four home runs during spring training so his bat carries some pop.
No matter who gets the job, the battle to be the backup catcher will be something intriguing to monitor during Spring Training.