The White Sox are making moves to address their future behind the plate. Seby Zavala will not be a part of it.
On Monday Zavala, who had been on the injured list since August 3rd with a strained left oblique, was reinstated from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte and designated for assignment. This likely marks the end of Zavala’s time with the White Sox. Zavala was out of options and the front office still opted not to keep him on the 40-man roster.
The White Sox hopes to use the season’s final months to evaluate young catchers Korey Lee and Carlos Perez. Yasmani Grandal is set to hit free agency at the end of the season and will not return to the club. The front office is hoping that Perez or Lee, who the White Sox added at the deadline for Kendal Graveman, can take the job and run with it.
The pair will be the only catchers on the 40-man roster at the end of the season. Cutting ties with Zavala frees up innings behind the plate and allows the White Sox to give them an extra look. Perez is hitting .241/.267/.345 with two RBIs in 30 plate appearances this year. Lee has struggled, slashing .045/.160/.045 so far this year.
The White Sox also have top-100 prospect Edgar Quero waiting in the wings in Double-A. Quero has been tearing the cover off the ball as of late. In his first 20 games with the Birmingham Barons, Quero slashed .295/.383/.436 with 23 hits, 19 RBIs, 12 walks, and three home runs. While he has yet to play in Triple-A he figures to be the White Sox catcher of the future. All these factors made Zavala expendable.
The 30-year-old catcher set a career-high with seven home runs this season. Unfortunately, that was about the only positive on the offensive end for Zavala. He slashed .155/.207/.304 with an OPS+ of just 38. This nosedive in production comes after Zavala batted .270 with a .729 OPS in 2022.
Had Zavala put up similar numbers this year there is a good chance he would still be on the roster. Pitchers rave about his game-calling ability and he was stout defensively. He earned a positive grade from the FanGraphs framing metric, ranked in the 88th percentile in blocks above average, and had seven Defensive Runs Saved. Only six catchers had more Defenvise Runs Saved than Zavala this season.
His claim to fame will be his three-home run game against the Cleveland Guardians on July 31st. His three blasts drove in six RBIs which tied for the second-most by a White Sox hitter in the No. 9 spots in the order, trailing only Charles Johnson. He became the first player in American League and National League history to hit his first three career homers in the same game. Before the game, no White Sox catcher had ever hit three homers in a single game before Zavala.
Zavala then had a multi-home run game against the Yankees on June 29th which made him the first player in White Sox history with more than one multi-home run game out of the nine spot of the order in a season. His other multi-homer effort came on June 6th against the Yankees. It was also his third multi-home run game in his career which is the most any White Sox player has had batting ninth.