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Reese McGuire has come to the South Side

The Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays have swapped backup catchers.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Catcher Reese McGuire anchors, at least according to FanGraphs, the strongest backup catching unit in the majors.
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox announced on Sunday that they have acquired catcher Reese McGuire from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Zack Collins. This provides a great backup catcher option for Tony La Russa to explore, effectively ticking the last box in a stacked position-player lineup on the South Side.

The Sox drafted Collins 10th overall in the 2016 MLB draft and he made his professional debut in Arizona before being promoted to the High-A Winston-Salem Dash after three games. He spent the next few seasons moving around the farm system, mostly between Winston-Salem and the Birmingham Barons, before starting the 2019 season with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. Collins was finally called up to the majors on June 18, 2019, where he debuted as pinch-hitter against the Chicago Cubs.

In the 2020 season with the White Sox, Collins played in nine games and batted .063, with no home runs and 0 RBIs. Returning in 2021, Collins hit .210 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 78 games last season. He was the catcher behind the plate against Cleveland when Carlos Rodón pitched a no-hitter on April 14.

Collins has always been ... OK. Other than the 2021 no-hitter, his career in Chicago has been relatively disappointing. His framing isn’t great by any stretch, his catching overall could use a lot of work (which is a pretty key issue, when you’re a CATCHER), and there is no guarantee he’ll ever escape the minor leagues now that he has been traded to the Blue Jays.

Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays
Zack Collins is on his way to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

With Collins now Toronto’s problem, Reese McGuire is now playing on the South Side. There have been rumors that Toronto have wanted to trade out some of their catching depth, and Collins has a minor league option remaining while McGuire is out of options. This means that the Blue Jays can freely demote Collins to Triple-A in 2022, freeing up space on their roster.

McGuire was selected 14th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 MLB draft, signing with the team on a $2.36 million contract. After making a splash in the Pirates’ minor league farm system, he was traded to the Blue Jays in 2016, finishing out the season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. In early May 2017, McGuire suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and required arthroscopic surgery, but he was able to return to Double-A in August, and there are no reports that the issue has lingered. He was added to Toronto’s 40-man roster in 2017, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft, and played for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons in 2018.

Detroit Tigers v Toronto Blue Jays
The South Side’s newest acquisition, catcher Reese McGuire.
Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

McGuire was promoted to the major leagues on Sept. 6, 2018, debuting with the Blue Jays that night against Cleveland. He did not make the 2019 roster and was optioned to Triple-A before rejoining the Blue Jays in late July. Other than a wildly bizarre incident in February 2020, when he was arrested for public masturbation after apparently having WAY too much fun with himself in his car in a Florida shopping center parking lot (*insert 10 to 15 “having a bat” jokes here*), McGuire’s career has been pretty solid.

In the 2020 season, McGuire batted .073 with one home run and one RBI in 19 games with the Blue Jays, but improved to slash .253/.310/.343 with 15 doubles, one home run and 10 RBIs in 78 games in the 2021 season. In 523 innings during 2021, he did not commit an error behind the plate and threw out 31% (9 of 29) of attempted base-stealers.

McGuire provides the White Sox with a great backup catcher option, which the team has been lacking up to this point. He is as tremendous a defender as Collins wasn’t, and will be able to step in as a good No. 2 behind Yasmani Grandal. With Opening Day so close, McGuire has obviously missed most of spring training with the Sox, so here’s hoping there isn’t too much of a learning curve as he builds rapport with Chicago’s pitchers. Grandal indicated he would have liked a week of spring training to work with McGuire and acclimate him to the pitching staff, but two days off this week in anticipation of Opening Day on Friday will give the newbie a chance to catch up on the team a bit.

Only time will tell, but this definitely seems to be a good move for the South Side.