The Chicago White Sox’s offseason has officially kicked off in earnest one day before December with the announcement that catcher Omar Narváez has been traded to the Seattle Mariners for RP Alex Colomé.
Pressed into starting duty after Welington Castillo’s PED suspension, Narváez broke out on offense. Omar had always been reliable for an above-average OBP with exceptionally little power but managed to raise his SLG almost .090 points from his 2017 numbers, ending the season with nine home runs and a .275/.366/.429 slash line. Unfortunately, he combines that approach at the plate with being one of the worst receivers in baseball both in terms of framing and blocking.
The Mariners traded for Colomé last May, obtaining the former All-Star from Tampa in yet another of the Rays arcane trade attempts to put together the most efficient team to miss the playoffs by 7 or more games. Colomé saved 84 games for Tampa from 2016-17 and pitched well for Seattle as a set-up man after the trade last season, striking out 3.77 hitters for every one he walked over 46.1 IP. He relies almost exclusively on a low-90s cutter and a mid-90s four-seamer though he does also have a changeup he’ll throw maybe 5 times a season as well.
What does this mean for the roster and the immediate future of the White Sox? Colomé won’t hit free agency until after the 2020 season and likely slots in as the closer for next year’s team as he currently might just be the best reliever on the team. The Sox need improvement from the bullpen this season and unless he gets injured or completely loses his mechanics (which could happen because pitchers are pitchers), this helps shore up that weakness a good deal. Everyone other reliever becomes a bit more palatable when they’re moved down the ladder one rung.
As for catcher, I wouldn’t expect anything big happening. Yasmani Grandal is a free agent and would be a great addition to a team that’s contention window could begin early if management wanted to make some splashes this winter, but I don’t really see it happening. Seby Zavala was just added to the 40-man and I’d be pretty surprised to see Rick Hahn & Co. relegate Castillo to the bench with how much he’s being paid. That being said, trading your reliable backup catcher with four years left of team control for a good reliever with only two years does hint towards moving into the bolstering the major league roster portion of the rebuilding phase.