Which catcher will serve as the White Sox backup to Welington Castillo for the 2018 season? Both starting catchers from 2017 had solid seasons.
The Chicago White Sox had a solid catching duo this past season with Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez. Each player was solid offensively, with Narvaez being the slightly better defender behind the plate in terms preventing potential base stealers. Although both players were decent in 2017, the Sox still acquired a starting catcher this offseason.
After the Sox signed Welington Castillo this offseason to a two-year contract with the option for a third year, either Smith or Narvaez could spend 2018 in the minors.The Sox aren’t expected to contend next season as many fans are aware of, but they will still need to develop young players in 2018. Both Smith and Narvaez could use more time to develop, but one of these players will be the second catcher for the Sox next year.
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When looking at offensive statistics from 2017, Smith had a slightly better season than Narvaez. Smith hit .283/.309/.388 with four home runs, 17 doubles, and 30 RBIs. Narvaez hit .277/.373/.340 with two home runs, 10 doubles, and 14 RBIs. Neither player appeared in more than 90 games, however, as Smith played 87 games and Narvaez played 90 games this past season.
Although Smith had more extra base-hits than Narvaez, he didn’t walk as much as the 25-year-old Venezuelan. Narvaez had 38 walks to just nine walks for Smith in 2017. Neither player had more than 46 strikeouts at the plate, but Narvaez showed he has the ability to get on base more than Smith. Narvaez also bats left-handed which could bring more balance to the Sox offense in 2018.
Defensively, both Smith and Narvaez were solid behind the plate for the Sox. Smith had a .997 fielding percentage while Narvaez’s fielding percentage was at .989. The one area where Narvaez has an edge over Smith in 2017 was limiting stolen bases. This past season, Narvaez caught stealing percentage was 24 percent while Smith’s was at eight percent.
The Sox have a good problem on their hands in regards to which player will be the number two catcher to start next season. Both Smith and Narvaez are good candidates, but they will each need a strong Spring Training to have a shot at joining the team for Opening Day. Expect a fierce battle for the Sox backup catcher. The Sox can’t go wrong with either player backing up Castillo in 2018.