If you could have envisioned what Hector Santiago’s realistic median outcome performance would be when he signed a minor-league free agent deal with the White Sox in February, it would have been more or less exactly what we got.
Santiago spent the duration of 2018 with the major league team after making the final cuts out of camp, pitching mostly in long relief with a few spot starts here and there. His final line: 49 appearances, seven starts, a 4.41 ERA, 5.12 FIP, a decent amount of strikeouts and a whole lotta walks.
He was the prototypical mop-up man for a White Sox team that needed mop-up duty on a whole bunch of occasions. Of his 42 relief appearances, exactly half of them came with the White Sox trailing by four or more runs and only six times did he appear in the eighth, ninth, or extra innings with the game tied or the White Sox leading by one or two runs. Nine times, he entered the game in the fifth inning or earlier and in only one of those games were the White Sox leading at the time.
That’s pretty much what one would have expected when the White Sox acquired Santiago. He was depth, served to protect the young arms and join James Shields as someone capable of eating innings without completely embarrassing himself. Was he good? It would be tough to argue that he was. But he certainly served a purpose for a team that lost 100 games.
Kevan Smith, as you know by now, is no longer with the White Sox after the Los Angeles Angels claimed him through waivers shortly after the World Series.
Smith was always kind of the odd man out when the White Sox signed Welington Castillo last offseason, but was pressed into more playing time in 2018 than initially expected after Castillo’s banned substance suspension.
Smith was hardly incompetent in extended playing time, and was the only of the White Sox three primary characters who the defensive stats liked even a little bit. His FRAA_ADJ was 0.7, compared to Castillo’s -6.4 and Narvaez’s league-worst -15.7.
That Smith won’t be around in 2018 is unfortunate, as more catching depth is never a bad thing. It’s entirely possible that the offensive potential of Castillo and Narvaez — after a breakout season at the plate — won’t outweigh the defensive negatives, but catching stats fluctuate strangely from year to year (Castillo was good in 2017), and with Zack Collins and Seby Zavala waiting in the pipeline to hopefully, potentially, take over catching duties, losing him is hardly a detriment to the rebuild.