The Chicago White Sox decision to option two backup catcher options wasn’t smart on the organization’s part.
With the season being delayed and baseball going into hibernation for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, the Chicago White Sox decided to option a few players on the roster bubble including a pair of backstops in Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes as reported by Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago.
Neither one was going to make the team starting at a position in 2020, but either one, or even both, could have made very solid role players and bench pieces.
Collins, 25, had a very impressive spring that saw him hit .333/.538/.722 with two home runs and six RBI over 13 games.
Mercedes, 27, was phenomenal over his 13-game stretch as well, hitting .381/.409/1.000 with four home runs and nine RBI.
Both players had the odds stacked against them from the start of spring training, though, with Yasmani Grandal set to have the starting job without question and 2019 All-Star James McCann right behind him as the backup catcher.
However, I argued that McCann shouldn’t have been as safe in his backup catcher role due to regression seen throughout the 2019 season and his poor defensive work.
Collins and Mercedes, arguably, could have served as better backup catchers behind Grandal.
Even if they couldn’t, though, both could have made the team with the addition of the 26th roster spot this season.
Mercedes would have been very valuable with his ability to play other positions as he has experience at first base, third base, and both corner outfield spots in addition to his ability to catch.
Collins would have been a nice addition to the roster due to his ability to hit left-handed.
Having Collins as an option to plug into the lineup at either first base, catcher, or DH on occasion could have been very beneficial for the team in 2020.
Nonetheless, it is understandable to option either one to Triple-A Charlotte to start the season, but having both there is a little strange.
If the goal is to get them regular playing time, sending them to the same minor league affiliate, especially one where they could also encounter Seby Zavala, is very questionable.
The team is definitely right to make sure Collins’ development doesn’t get hurt by inconsistent playing time, but this is a very questionable way to do that.
One of those three catchers might find themselves starting their 2020 season in Double-A Birmingham due to this catcher logjam that the organization now has.
They could also certainly find themselves traded over the next calendar year, but the Chicago White Sox made a mistake optioning both Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes to start the 2020 season. One of them should start the season in the South Side.