White Sox catching duo had solid 2017 in first full year with team. Both players are well liked by manager who would like for them to return in 2018.
Both catchers ended their first full professional seasons with solid play and could perhaps be behind the plate next year for the Sox. Smith and Narvaez both had a good season for the Sox which didn’t go unnoticed by their manager Rick Renteria or fans.
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After the Sox failed catching duo experiment with Alex Avila and Dioner Narvarro in 2016, the team was able to benefit from two young catchers that came up through their system. Narvaez finished 2017 with a .277/.373/.340 slash line. Smith finished his season hitting .283/.309/.388.
With the Sox rebuild starting successfully after a 95-loss season, Smith and Narvaez could very well start next season with the team. According to Dan Hayes of NBC Sports Chicago, Sox manager Rick Renteria would be okay with both players returning in 2018.
"“I would not be uncomfortable taking these same two guys again in the coming year and allow them to continue to grow with those guys that we have because they’ve actually gained some ground in understand what they’re doing. Might as well not waste this thing that we’ve been able to gain because of what’s occurred over this season.” Rick Renteria"
The Sox most likely won’t be pursuing a marquee free agent catcher such as Jonathan Lucroy, but they have a pair of young players who could continue progressing with the team in Narvaez and Smith. Narvaez appeared in 90 games this past season and hit two home runs with 14 RBIs. He’s not going to get many extra base hits, but he has shown to have a good eye at the plate which lead to his high on-base percentage.
Narvaez had 38 walks for the Sox, which was second on the team this season. The 25-year-old catcher also had a 1.3 oWAR in 2017. Smith appeared in 87 games and hit four home runs with 17 doubles to go along with 30 RBIs. Both catchers could perform even better next year if given the opportunity to do so, something that would also be important in building cohesion between them and the Sox talented young pitchers.