White Sox add depth at catcher, first base with a pair of acquisitions via free agent signing, trade on a busy Friday for the franchise looking to improve.
The Chicago White Sox addressed an area of need during the Winter Meetings via trade. On Friday, the Sox continued to add to their team for next season with a free agent signing and a trade with a division rival.
James McCann, who played five seasons with the Detroit Tigers was signed early on Friday to a one-year $2.5 million contract. On Friday evening, it was announced that the Sox had acquired Yonder Alonso from the Cleveland Indians in a trade. The Indians received Sox prospect Alex Call in exchange for Alonso.
With the addition of McCann, the Sox add a backup catcher with a good arm to help prevent stolen bases. While McCann’s offense isn’t game-changing, he will be able to give the Sox depth at the catcher position while two of their prospects in Seby Zavala and Zack Collins continue to develop in the minors.
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Over five seasons with the Tigers, McCann owned a slash line of .240/.288/.366 with 40 home runs and 177 RBIs. This past season, McCann hit just .220 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs through 118 games. McCann won’t be looked upon as the starting catcher for the Sox next season but is a nice stopgap solution for the team until the 2020 season.
Although McCann’s offense wasn’t good in 2018 with the Tigers, his ability to catch potential base stealers on the basepaths was solid. This past season, McCann’s caught stealing percentage was 36 percent in 114 games at catcher. For his career, McCann has a 37 percent caught stealing percentage.
After signing McCann, the Sox didn’t waste much time in adding another player. Alonso who was acquired from the Indians gives the Sox quality depth at first base and as a designated hitter. Through 145 games with Cleveland this past season, Alonso hit .250 with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs.
Alonso appeared in 138 games at first base in 2018 for the Indians. He could give Jose Abreu a rest next season at first base and serve as the Sox primary DH. With his acquisition, it could mean that Daniel Palka will see less playing time in 2019. The Sox will take on Alonso’s entire 2019 salary as he will make $8 million next season and has a $1 million buyout if his $9 million option for 2020 is declined.
Another interesting note about the acquisition of Alonso is that he is the brother-in-law of free agent superstar Manny Machado. On Thursday, Ken Rosenthal proposed a unique idea of a team trading for Alonso in order to entice Machado to sign with them. Now while Alonso gives the Sox a powerful left-handed bat in their lineup, he could also help the team in their recruitment efforts for Machado.
Just because the Sox acquired Alonso, it doesn’t mean they will sign Machado. What it does ensure is the Sox having a more balanced lineup going into 2019. There are still many moves to be made for the Sox as they still have some holes to fill. This offseason has gotten off to a good start for the Sox and there should be more good news for fans as we move closer to the start of next season.