The White Sox announced a series of roster moves today, selecting catcher’s contract Seby Zavala and designating first baseman Yermin Mercedes for assignment. They also remembered lefty Tanner Banks† To make way on the active roster for Zavala and Banks, lefty Aaron Bummer was placed on the 15-day injured list, backdated to June 9 due to a lat strain, while on trial David Martin was chosen for Triple-A.
Zavala appeared in the majors with the White Sox in 2019 and 2021, appearing in 42 games and hitting .171/.223/.343. He was kicked straight off the roster in April and was in Triple-A Charlotte, showing a much better show. He has hit .282/.396/0.535 in 41 games with the Knights, which amounts to a wRC+ of 147, but with a strikeout percentage of 35.5%. He has actually played more first base than catcher this year, although he is probably needed at the big league-club for extra depth behind the plate. Yasmani Grandal left yesterday’s game with a strained hamstring and will not be available for a while even though he is not placed on the IL. Zavala and Reese McGuire will handle the catching duties until Grandal has recovered enough to rejoin them.
As for Mercedes, this has the potential to round out his tenure with the White Sox, a relationship that hasn’t always gone smoothly. Last year the Twins sent utility player Willians Astudillo to the mound in a game they lost to the Sox 15-4. Mercedes angered some unwritten rule fetishists by swinging a 3-0 pitch from Astudillo and plunging over the fence for a home run. The Twins reacted by throwing behind Mercedes in another game, which resulted in suspensions for reliever Tyler Duffey and manager Rocco Baldelli† In the media that followed, many White Sox players defended Mercedes, but White Sox manager Tony La Russa spoke out publicly against his own player and those who defended him.
Later in the season, Mercedes was chosen for the minors, after which he announced his intention to move away from baseball, apparently posting his decision on Instagram before telling the team about it. However, it turned out to be a false alarm as Mercedes quickly returned to the team.
This year Mercedes underwent hand surgery in March but was able to return in May and make his season debut in Triple-A. In 25 games with the Knights, he reached 0.230/0.376/0.426 thanks to a whopping 18.3% running speed. That all adds up to a wRC+ of 120, or 20% above the competition average. Mercedes has always hit at every level, including the majors, although he doesn’t offer much value with the gauntlet. Although he came on as a catcher, he gradually spent less time behind the plate, making 15 starts this year at DH and nine at first base, none behind the saucer. The 29-year-old is in his final year of option, meaning he could spark interest from any team willing to give him a 40-man roster spot. It could be stored in Triple-A for the rest of the year as a bat-first depth option. The White Sox have a week to trade him or put him on waivers.