With no need to rush Collins to the big league, the White Sox still have talent available which should be used in acquiring a catcher.
The Chicago White Sox are now in full rebuild mode. If it wasn’t a full rebuild, the White Sox wouldn’t have traded Adam Eaton, and be taking calls on Jose Quintana, all following trading their best player.
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With no need to win in 2017, the White Sox need to start trading away their bullpen. Aside from the blown saves and occasional breakdowns, the White Sox had a middle of the pack bullpen with very strong arms that can be of interest to teams. They also have decent position players who can contribute, but just don’t have a foreseeable future with the team.
It’s no surprise the team lacks catchers. Zack Collins is the number two catching prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com’s top 10 prospects by position list. Collins was only drafted this past year though, and there’s no reason to call him up to play catcher, with the team not intending on contending. In fact, Collins future is unknown. Some scouts expect him to play first base or DH, while other scouts are giving him the benefit of a long season to hold off on judging his future.
Omar Narvaez played well for what was expected of him, but to expect him to be an important part of future teams is a long shot. With that being said, the White Sox need to look at other major league catchers for their future.
Pedro Severino, the Nationals catching prospect, played well in his major league stint. Although the Nationals could target David Robertson, I doubt they trade to the White Sox again, given the public backlash after their acquisition of Eaton. Tom Murphy is also a great option, but he appears to be a part of the Rockies current push, even though Colorado has a weak bullpen.
An option appears in the Tampa Bay Rays system. He’s behind other prospects in this system, and can be a cheap pickup. The option is Justin O’Conner. With the signing of Wilson Ramos, the Rays appear to be making a push for the playoffs. In all this O’Conner is lost. He was recently DFA’d to make room for Ramos, but I believe he gets out-righted instead of released.
O’Conner missed the majority of the season due to a sprained back. This doesn’t look like a good pickup, given he fell 12 spots on MLBpipeline.com’s ranking of the Rays top prospect. He’s now their 27th ranked prospect. According to MLBpipeline.com, though, O’Conner has an 80 arm on the 20-80 scale, and a 55 field. A defensively inclined catcher is what the White Sox need with all these new pitchers coming in. He has no future with the Rays, but he can be important for the White Sox. Although him rebounding off the injury is for the White Sox to decide, the team’s previous trades have shown they’re not shying away from players previously injured.
With O’Conner being a gamble, a veteran known for his glove will help the young pitchers the most. Although O’Conner is a great defender, he has a lot to learn as he’s only played in Double-A. Matt Wieters is a former gold glove and will not only help the pitchers, but Collins as well.
All in all, the value of O’Conner, who’s ETA is 2017, is at a point where the Sox can trade a player they won’t miss. On top of that, the signing of a veteran will only help O’Conner, Navaez, and Collins, along with the pitchers. The trade will be a win-win for both teams, and a veteran will have a lasting effect on the team.