White Sox still have need for starting catcher, Matt Wieters remains unsigned as Spring Training looms. Could South Siders add veteran catcher?
The Chicago White Sox need a starting catcher for this upcoming season. With the Sox currently rebuilding, the need for a true everyday catcher isn’t present at the moment. However, they don’t have much depth at catcher and could use a veteran presence behind the plate.
Unfortunately, the Sox haven’t made much traction in signing a veteran catcher and could begin Spring Training with just Omar Narvaez and Geovany Soto as thier number one and two catchers. The White Sox could target one catcher that’s still a free agent: Matt Wieters. Although the Sox aren’t expected to contend, they could most certainly use an established veteran at catcher.
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However, Wieters has yet to get any significant offers this offseason. The Sox aren’t the only team passing him up, other teams with needs at catcher aren’t taking a chance on signing Wieters either. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Wieters could still be on the market because of one thing: pitch framing.
Wieters agent Scott Boros mentioned to Rosenthal he believes Wieters isn’t getting as much attention on the free agent market due to pitch framing. According to Rosenthal, Boras believes pitch framing statistics are flawed. Boras stated framing isn’t a defining metric because it is dependent on the pitcher.
Although Wieters hit .243 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Orioles last season, his pitch framing statistics were rather poor. According to StatCorner, Wieters saved -7.3 runs for Baltimore in 2016. This put him towards the bottom half of MLB catchers at 68th. Despite this statistic, Wieters could still add value for a pitching staff.
Rosenthal listed eight teams that could use the services of Wieters, including the White Sox. While Wieters might not land an annual salary that would match his qualifying offer from 2016 of $15.8 million, he could very well fit into the Sox budget with a more reasonable one or two year contract. Rosenthal listed the Orioles, Nationals, Mets, Rockies, Rays, Angels and Diamondbacks as potential fits for Wieters along with the Sox.
"“Teams in full-blown rebuilds rarely sign free agents such as Wieters. Then again, the White Sox plan to develop a young rotation with Goevany Soto as their likely starter and a number of inexperienced catchers vying for the backup role.” Ken Rosenthal"
The Sox could certainly use a more established catcher in Wieters this season, and he could very well help develop their young pitchers such as Carlos Rodon. Having Soto enter camp as the primary catcher isn’t ideal, even on a team that’s rebuilding. Wieters most likely won’t return to his glory days when he posted a slash line of .262/.328/.450 in 2011, but he would be a welcome upgrade over the current catching situation for the Sox.
With the Sox beginning Spring Training this Tuesday, they still have time to make another addition to their roster. They could sign Wieters and hope he adds trade value before the trading deadline, or they could sign him to help develop their young pitchers over the next two seasons. The logical choice is to give Wieters a shot at catching on the South Side. Will Rick Hahn sign Wieters, or will the Sox begin the season with either Soto or Narvaez as the starting catcher?