How terrible is the current White Sox catching situation? It’s bad enough that when I see a trade rumor connecting the White Sox to a catcher who has hit .228/.311/.343 in his MLB career, I completely understand the motivation.
The question is whether or not this is a deal the Sox should even pursue.
A few months ago the White Sox were rumored to be interested in Tampa Bay’s Jose Lobaton, but nothing came of it. The rumors started because the Rays had just re-signed Jose Molina and then traded for Ryan Hanigan, and the White Sox have terrible catchers. So it made sense.
The talks died down following the winter meetings, but now, a couple of months later, this tweet popped up.
Considering that Tampa really doesn’t have a place for him, it’s hard to imagine the price to pry him away from the bay will be too high. The question for the White Sox is whether or not Lobaton would even be worth it.
It’s hard to imagine the Sox getting much from guys like Tyler Flowers, Josh Phegley, Hector Gimenez or even Adrian Nieto, whom the Sox picked up in the Rule 5 Draft. It’s even harder to imagine Lobaton being much of an improvement on any of them.
Like the four in-house options, Lobaton is not a good hitter. What he is, however, is a switch-hitter who has hit lefties better throughout his career, but actually managed a .736 OPS against righties last season. Tyler Flowers had an OPS of .603 last season while Josh Phegley checked in at .522 and, holy shit, you’ll have to excuse me for a moment. It’s hard to type through all this blood currently pouring out of my eyes.
How the hell did I survive last season?
Anyway, back to Lobaton. Typically, if you’re a light-hitting catcher, the thing you do well to stick around on an MLB roster is play solid defense. Well, Lobaton doesn’t. He has a weak arm, is below average at blocking pitches, and isn’t particularly exceptional at framing pitches, either.
So he can’t hit, and he doesn’t bring much behind the plate. Oh, and he’s just entering the arbitration years of his career, and wouldn’t be a free agent until after 2017.
In other words, he might not bring more production than the current options, but it’s possible he could cost more.
So while it’s fun to see the White Sox involved in trade rumors, and it’s nicer to know that Rick Hahn realizes he needs to fix the catcher situation, this move just wouldn’t make a lot of sense for them.
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