After losing in the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, the Chicago White Sox saw how a defensive-minded catcher can impact a game. The team needs to bolster their catching depth as they prepare to head into the 2022 season.
If the White Sox elect to continue using one of the catchers in the organization, there is a chance Seby Zavala returns to the team. If you don’t remember, Zavala came up after Yasmani Grandal went down in early July with a knee injury.
Zavala appeared in 33 games for the White Sox as the catcher and in his limited time, he struggled both offensively and defensively. In 93 at-bats, Zavala struggled mightily outside of his three-home run game against the Cleveland Indians in late July. He finished the season with a slash line of .183/.240/.376. He also hit five home runs and drove in 15 runs.
Defensively, he finished the season with an excellent .997 fielding percentage. Although he had been regarded as a solid defensive catcher, he struggled in his first chance at extended playing time, allowing eight passed balls and 24 stolen bases. He also ended the season with a -0.1 WAR.
The Chicago White Sox has an interesting decision to make with Seby Zavala.
After seeing him struggle, the White Sox elected to send him back down to Triple-A Charlotte on September 14th in exchange for the left-handed bat of the organization’s other catcher, Zack Collins. Although Zavala is the better defensive catcher, his struggles on both sides of the plate forced the White Sox into the decision.
If Zavala wants to have a chance at making the major league roster heading into 2022, he must improve defensively. One thing that bodes well for Zavala is that he has been praised by his pitching staff for calling good games.
With Grandal set as the starting catcher (and being better offensively than he has been defensively for the White Sox), Zavala needs to make adjustments and come into 2022 blocking the ball better and as a threat to gun down opposing runners as they attempt to steal bases.
One of the White Sox weaknesses all season was allowing opposing runners to steal bases and place themselves into scoring position. If Zavala can help eliminate that weakness, he will be in good standing with the organization, which can help propel him into the backup catcher role.
Zavala had some great moments for the White Sox in 2021 but if he wants the opportunity to create more, he must improve on the weaknesses he showed defensively in 2021 to be the number one candidate for the backup catcher role for the White Sox in 2022.