The catcher position is one of several issues the Chicago White Sox should address this off-season but for fans wanting the team will find a replacement for Yasmani Grandal, the chances of that happening are rather slim.
Following an injury-plagued 2022 season that saw Grandal post a .202 batting average with five home runs and a WAR of -1.4, the team is hoping new manager Pedro Grifol can get him back to posting numbers as he did in 2021. That year, Grandal produced a slash line of .240/.420/.520 to go along with 23 home runs.
Grifol spent the last 10 years in the Kansas City Royals organization and served as the catching coach during several of those years.
He worked closely with all-star catcher Salvador Perez and the White Sox would love nothing more than to see Grifol use his coaching skill to help Grandal improve both offensively and defensively.
Grandal said he thinks Grifol is a "really good guy" and wants to instill a new attitude that helps the team play baseball "the right way" and has them as prepared as possible when they step on the field.
The Chicago White Sox need more from Yasmani Grandal in 2023.
Just being on the field has been an issue Grandal has faced over the last few seasons. Grandal played in only 192 games the last two years and has recently worked with Chicago Blackhawks head strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman on endurance training in the early stages of a program to get him ready for 2023.
In December, Grandal will get together with White Sox catching coordinator Julio Mosquera to get some work in for a week or so before meeting up again in January to prep for spring training. A catchers' camp with some of the younger White Sox players is also on the docket.
Grandal has regressed defensively in several areas since coming to the White Sox. He caught just over 73 innings less in 2022 than 2021 (554 to 627.1 innings) yet saw his number of passed balls allowed increase from seven to eight and his percentage of runners caught stealing drop from 19 percent to 15 percent. His fielding percentage did go up from .989 to .993 as his number of errors was cut in half from eight to four.
Seby Zavala had a nice year for himself and proved his worth as a capable number two catcher. His .270 batting average and 24 percent caught stealing rate (7 of 24 runners) was good as was his four passed balls over 448.2 innings.
Since signing the largest contract in White Sox history, Grandal has not produced at a rate to match that deal. According to Spotrac, he is scheduled to make $18.25 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
That type of money combined with his injury history and age (34) makes it hard to try and move him in a trade unless they get creative in a deal with another team.
If the free agent market is an option they explore, Wilson Contreras just turned down the Chicago Cubs qualifying offer of one year, $19.65 million which means he will be looking for money and years in a deal the White Sox would probably not invest in a player.
There are other players such as Tucker Barnhart, Mike Zunino, Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez and Christian Vazquez available as well. However, if changes to catcher or other positions of need are to come, chances are the team will look to trade rather than go the free agent route.