The south side of Chicago won’t have much of anything to celebrate in 2018 except for having a solution to their catcher woes, a rather decent rotation and seeing their young guns develop.
The White Sox will have greater production behind the plate after signing Wellington Castillo to a two-year contract worth $15 million including a club option worth $8 million in 2020.
Castillo had a career year despite only playing 96 games for Baltimore last year hitting .282/.323/.490 with 20 home runs and 53 RBI’s.
When they announced the signing, general manager Rick Hahn had nothing but praise for the eight-year veteran, “We view it as an upgrade in both the short-term and the long-term. He’s been one of the most productive catchers in baseball over the past few years. We’ll think he’ll make an impact on both our young pitchers and our young catchers.”
Hopefully, a couple years of Castillo will help young catchers Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith develop their games as major league catchers.
Last season, Narvaez hit .277/.373./.340 with two home runs in 90 games and Smith hit .283/.309/.388 with four home runs in 87 games.
All eyes will be on young phenom, 2B Yoan Moncada as he looks to improve from his 2017 campaign.
Moncada was recalled from AAA Charlotte on July 19 and in 54 games for the White Sox, hit .231/.338/.412 with eight home runs and 22 RBI’s
According to Steamer, Moncada is expected to hit .236/.326/.395 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI’s in 135 games in 2018.
Another guy to watch is RF Avisaíl Garcia who is coming off a career year for the Sox. In 136 games, Garcia hit .330/.380/.506 while being the lone representative for Chicago in last year’s All-Star Game.
SS Tim Anderson is entering his third season in the league and we should get a good gauge on which player he is after this year.
Anderson, who will turn 25 in June, in 245 games for the White Sox is hitting .268/.289/.414 with a combined 279 strikeouts.
The key for Anderson to work on in the spring is to get more balls in play. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .347 over his career.
The rotation for the White Sox is half decent. The rotation features three average pitchers in James Shields, Lucas Giolito and Miguel González who they signed back after they traded him to the Texas Rangers at last year’s deadline.
Carlos Rodón would usually be apart of this list but he is recovering from shoulder surgery in Sept. 2017 and is expected to return in June.
As far as the bullpen, the future back-end of their bullpen will be mentored by veterans Joakim Soria and Luis Avilán.
The best case scenario is that Chicago will be able to power ahead of Kansas City for third place in the division. The worst case is that Castillo suffers an injury that makes Narvaez and Smith share catching duties and the Tigers could possibly power ahead of them so that they fall in the cellar of the AL Central.
The White Sox open on the road March 29 as they face a Hosmer-less Kansas City Royals at 4:15 p.m. EDT.
Mike Ricchione is a baseball enthusiast and is building his media portfolio. Catch his radio show “Rounding the Bases” Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. on 107.7 The Bronc. You can also follow him on Twitter @MikeRicchione.