The White Sox today announced a series of roster changes, selecting the receiver contract Seby Zavala and designate the first baseman Yermine Mercedes for assignment. They also recalled left-handed Tanner Banks. To make room on the active roster for left-handed Zavala and Banks Aaron Bummer was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 9, due to a lat strain, while righty david martin was optioned on Triple-A.
Zavala appeared in the majors with the White Sox in 2019 and 2021, playing in 42 games and hitting .171/.223/.343. He was knocked out of the roster altogether in April and was in Triple-A Charlotte, having a much better showing. He hit .282/.396/.535 in 41 games with the Knights, which is a wRC+ of 147, but with a strikeout rate of 35.5%. He’s actually played more at first base than catcher this year, although he’s likely needed at the big league club for more depth behind the plate. Yasmani Grandal left yesterday’s game with hamstring strain and will be out for some time, although he hasn’t been placed on the IL. Zavala and Reese McGuire will take care of capture duties until Grandal recovers enough to join them.
As for Mercedes, it has the potential to wrap up his tenure with the White Sox, a relationship that hasn’t always gone smoothly. Last year the Twins sent a utility player Willians Astudillo to the mound in a game they were losing 15-4 to the Sox. Mercedes drew the ire of some unwritten rules fetishists by swinging on a 3-0 pitch from Astudillo and laying over the fence for a home run. The Twins responded by throwing behind Mercedes in a later game, which resulted in suspensions for the reliever Tyler Duffey and manager Rocco Baldelli. In the media dust 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 optioned to the minors, which was followed by him announcing he was planning to step away from baseball, apparently posting his decision on Instagram before telling the team. However, this turned out to be a false alarm as Mercedes soon returned to the team in a short time.
This year, Mercedes underwent hand surgery in March but were able to return and make their Triple-A season debut in May. In 25 games with the Knights, he hit .230/.376/.426 thanks to an impressive walk rate of 18.3%. All of this equates to a wRC+ of 120, which is 20% above the league average. Mercedes has always hit at all levels, including the majors, although it doesn’t add much value with the gauntlet. Although he became a catcher, he gradually spent less time behind the plate, making 15 DH starts this year and nine at first base, none behind the plate. The 29-year-old is in his final option year, which means he could attract interest from any team willing to give him a 40-man spot. He could be tucked away in Triple-A for the rest of the year as a bat-first depth option. The White Sox will have one week to trade him or put him on waiver.