In an era where trade negotiations are broadcast across the internet as they unfold, the White Sox seem to have perfected the art of controlling what information they want coming out and when. The team flexed their discretionary muscle on Friday afternoon when they dropped the news of their latest move on Twitter without so much as a whisper from any credible media prior to the deal’s completion.
The deal was a bit of a surprise. Moving catcher Omar Narvaez, who was slated to be the starting catcher for the team in 2019, to Seattle in exchange for former All-Star reliever Alex Colome (COLE-uh-may). Narvaez enjoyed a stretch in 2018 in which he was the team’s best hitter. The 26 year old batted .351 across the months of June, July and August, and became one of the surprising developments of the dreary ’18 campaign for Rick Renteria‘s squad. Alas, questions about Narvaez’s ability to repeat his hot 2018, and his well documented defensive issues made him ultimately expendable.
As for what this move means for the White Sox behind the plate in 2019, it means fans will likely get their first look at prospect Seby Zavala in tandem with Wellington Castillo coming out of spring training. Zavala, 25, is the team’s 22nd ranked prospect, and made a name for himself in the talented White Sox system in 2018, hitting .258 with 13 home runs across Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. The move frees up a spot for Zavala, and ensures that the incumbent Wellington Castillo will have a place on the 25 man roster moving forward, despite a rocky 2018 in which he was suspended 80 games for PED’s.
The return for Narvaez was about as good as one could hope for a player with the defensive issues he has and the lack of track record. Alex Colome, is 29, under team control through 2020, and has been at times dominating over the course of his first four full seasons. In 2017, Colome led the league in saves with 47, pitching in the back of a Tampa Bay Rays bullpen that won 80 games.
Colome features a devastating fastball/cutter combination which resulted in him fanning nearly 10 batters per nine innings in 2018, and almost 12 per nine in 2016. Colome is entering his second arbitration eligible year after making just over five million dollars in 2018. His pay in 2019 and 2020 will be relatively low compared to what other comparable relievers will make this year, and he is a more attractive relief option than can easily be found on the open market right now.
Colome joins a White Sox bullpen that found it’s stride somewhat late in 2018, as young arms such as Jace Fry, Caleb Frare, Ian Hamilton and Ryan Burr made their way to the big leagues. Colome figures to compete to be the team’s closer in 2019, and possibly beyond. Unlike last year’s acquisition of Joakim Soria, Colome figures to stick around on the White Sox for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn sold high on Narvaez. The team knew Zavala was likely ready for his shot, and as mentioned above, what Narvaez gave to the team through his offense, he regularly took away through his poor pitch framing ability, and weak arm. To exchange him for an established, controllable bullpen arm, is an opportunistic and shrewd move from Hahn. And as always, keep your eyes peeled on Twitter, because you never know when the White Sox are going to make their next move.
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