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Should I Stay or Should I Go: Seby Zavala

Catching depth has finally arrived!

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers
Seby Zavala improved in every aspect of the game in 2022.
Brian Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

fWAR: 1.9
bWAR: 1.0
WARP: 0.5

He should stay With Yasmani Grandal in Danger of Flopping Abysmally (which is what I assume DFA stand for), Zavala stands as the next guy on the depth chart. After years of floundering in Triple-A, the backstop regained some serious mojo in 2022 and contributed nicely on the MLB roster, posting 5.2 Framing Runs Above Average and rating as an average defensively. Along with an impressive 111 wRC+, that’s a borderline All-Star catcher if he’s able to play around 110-120 games. Zavala is out of options, so the White Sox lose a bit of roster flexibility by keeping him around. But he’s improved enough to earn a spot, and then some.

He should go Catching depth is important, but there are arguably better defensive backstops usually available in free agency for a price even the stingy White Sox can afford, and if Zavala can bring back something in a trade, then a stopgap acquisition and Carlos Pérez can technically hedge against Grandal’s knees spontaneously combusting. Also, while Zavala’s bat was impressive, he still strikes out an excessive amount (31.2%), and if pitchers adjust to exploit the holes in his swing, that might make him another empty spot in the lineup.

The verdict I’m all for the White Sox grabbing another catcher, but I’d feel bad if they tried too hard to supplant Zavala, who is finally generating a return on investment. Even if his bat regresses, Zavala’s defense and framing look much improved, and he’s a healthy backup on a team that definitely needs more of that. Sure, if they can net a starting pitcher or second baseman or something else needed by trading him, then it’s more than worth exploring. Barring that, Zavala has value for next year and stands a good chance of being far more important to the team than we realize in 2023.