The Chicago White Sox have a very interesting backup catcher situation emerging in spring training as yet another option is having a strong spring.
Zack Collins has had a very strong spring training for the Chicago White Sox as he tries to make the 2020 Opening Day roster.
Collins, 25, has appeared in 11 of the team’s spring training games so far and is hitting .313/.542/.750 (1.292 OPS) with one double, two home runs, and five RBI.
Defense was a concern for the backstop in 2019 but, as detailed by Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, Collins has improved at the position.
"“He’s maturing first and foremost,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s understanding the work he’s putting in is going to pay huge dividends. He’s receiving much better. He’s working with the pitchers much better.“The communication is much better. Everything in his blocking game is improving. Any number of things we’ve asked him to do behind the plate, he’s trying to show us he’s capable of doing it.”"
As noted in that article, Collins has been working closely with the team’s biggest addition this past offseason, Yasmani Grandal, and so far it appears to have helped significantly.
While he’s noticeably improved this spring, he has a tough road ahead in terms of trying to make the roster on Opening Day.
With Grandal starting at catcher, James McCann has become the team’s backup catcher, at least for now.
I argued in a recent article why McCann really shouldn’t be guaranteed the backup catcher job, but given the fact he was an All-Star in 2019, it definitely would appear likely he will be the backup catcher on Opening Day.
It is possible the team could bring three catchers onto the roster to start the season, especially given the fact there is a 26th roster spot now.
That being said, it is likely that the White Sox will only carry two catchers and, if they were to carry a third catcher, it would most likely be Mercedes given his ability to play other positions, having played first base, third base, and both corner outfield spots.
Furthermore, the team will likely argue that Collins’ lackluster showing when he was at the major league level in 2019 (77 wRC+ and -0.3 fWAR according to FanGraphs) makes it better to have in Triple-A Charlotte to start the season.