Chicago White Sox

Yasmani Grandal, James McCann lead White Sox's potent pool of catchers

White Sox catcher James McCann bats in the second inning of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers on Feb. 29 in Surprise, Ariz.
White Sox catcher James McCann bats in the second inning of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers on Feb. 29 in Surprise, Ariz.

They have two All-Stars, and more.

From top to bottom, the White Sox are loaded at the catching position.

In 2018, Seby Zavala pushed his way to Triple-A Charlotte and was rated No. 3 on the organizational depth chart.

This spring, Zavala checks in at No. 5.

“A hallmark of a good team is having quality depth,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “That’s something we talked about from the start of being one of the goals that we set out to accomplish through this rebuild, and quite frankly, it was one of the things I’ve talked about publicly perhaps of not being entirely there yet in terms of organizational depth at certain spots.

“Catcher isn’t one of those spots.”

Even though he had All-Star James McCann returning this season, Hahn signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract Nov. 21.

Playing for the Brewers in 2019, Grandal led all major league catchers with 109 walks and a .380 on-base percentage while establishing career highs with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs.

A two-time All-Star, Grandal also is one of the best pitch framers in the game.

He takes over as the Sox’s starting catcher, dropping McCann to the backup role.

Zack Collins, the No. 10-overall pick in the 2016 draft, is No. 3, but Yermin Mercedes is making a strong push for major league playing time this spring.

In his first 13 Cactus League games, the 27-year-old Mercedes is batting .381 with four home runs and nine RBIs.

It’s never wise to put too much emphasis on March statistics, but Mercedes captured the Sox’s attention last season when he hit a combined .317 with 23 homers and 80 RBIs over 95 games with Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham.

“I’m feeling great because I’m just doing my job here,” Mercedes said earlier in training camp. “Keep working hard every day and wait for the White Sox to give me the opportunity.”

With rosters expanding to 26 this year – up from 25 in the past – the Sox might open the season with three catchers.

Grandal and McCann are locks, assuming the latter isn’t traded.

Mercedes gives the Sox a power bat from the right side of the plate, and Collins has great pop from the left side.

“It’s a good group,” said McCann, who batted .273 with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs in 118 games for the Sox last season. “You get ready to play, you get ready to take care of your business each and every day. Obviously, it’s a team-first mentality, but there is a personal side to it of making sure that you’re ready to play and whatever that means to get yourself ready to play.”

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