The White Sox used five catchers in 2018, which is probably more than they had hoped to need when they added Welington Castillo as the starter ahead of solid backup options Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith
Things didn’t go quite as planned, of course. Castillo got an 80-game suspension for taking a banned substance, and Narvaez emerged as a surprising offensive plus with Smith serving as a competent if flawed backup. That trio did wind up catching the vast majority of the innings for the 2018 White Sox, but two other guys took turns behind the plate.
Alfredo Gonzalez and Dustin Garneau combined to take 12 major league trips to the plate in 2018 and caught 31 innings behind the plate. Gonzalez came up for one game following Castillo’s suspension only because Smith was still on the Triple-A disabled list and not yet ready to join the team. Garneau came up for three games later in the season when Smith went on paternity leave.
The White Sox acquired Gonzalez from the Astros in 2016 based on the strength of his defense. The problem is, he hasn’t hit enough to warrant promotion. In his first full season with the organization, he hit .208/.306/.301 in Double-A Birmingham. This season, he hit a more respectable .298/.342/.413 in Birmingham but only .193/.288/.211 at Triple-A Charlotte. Catchers are weird, so even though he’s 26, there’s still at least a non-zero chance Gonzalez figures it out with the bat to the point where his defense can become an asset at the major league level, but right now he remains just outside the fringe.
Garneau was selected off waivers from the Oakland Athletics just a few weeks before he made his debut with the team. At now 31 and with previous cups of coffee in the majors with both the A’s and Rockies, he’s pretty much the epitome of the fringe major league teams keep around for positional depth. His three-game appearance on the major league roster was exactly the point of having players like him around. He was outrighted off the 40-man roster after the season.
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