With pitchers and catchers set to report Feb. 14, we’re reinstating the White Sox mailbag for the season. The first 2017 edition tackles questions about center field, catcher and the possibility of a Jose Quintana trade.
Do you see (Peter) Bourjos making the big club out of spring training? — @2ACES67
The Sox signed Bourjos, who has spent parts of seven seasons in the majors with the Angels, Cardinals and Phillies, to a minor-league deal Friday. As the Sox stand, I think he has a pretty good shot to make the major-league club out of spring training.
The Sox need somebody to fill the hole in center field after Adam Eaton was traded, and Bourjos has played 548 of his 657 career games in center.
Charlie Tilson is also a contender for the position, but he will have to prove himself recovered from the left hamstring injury that knocked him out of his major-league debut with the Sox in August. Even if Tilson is ready to go, Bourjos could provide needed outfield depth.
The Sox also mentioned outfielders Jacob May and Adam Engel as prospects who could join the big-league club at some point this season, but they might see more development in the minors before making that jump.
When would you expect a (Jose Quintana) trade to go down? — @Adamchrz15
The biggest question about the Sox entering the spring is whether Quintana will be the opening-day starter, and it’s a question I can’t easily answer.
Quintana has drawn plenty of interest this winter from other teams, but general manager Rick Hahn reiterated at SoxFest last weekend that they won’t deal any player until they feel they are receiving the right return.
They haven’t gotten that offer yet, though it’s always a possibility this spring, especially if a team is staring down an injury to a key starter before the season. Hahn knows how valuable Quintana and his team-friendly contract are, and seeing as he’s under control through 2020, the Sox could hold off and see if there’s a better response at the trade deadline.
Of course, there’s also a risk in that line of thinking: Quintana’s value could drop dramatically if he is injured or if the trade rumors turn out to be a distraction and he underperforms.
Your best guess as to who the starting catcher might be? Been a weak position since A.J. Pierzynski. — @Lundy1970
As of now, I would guess Omar Narvaez and Geovany Soto might split time at catcher.
The Sox said multiple times last season that Narvaez put himself in the picture for the 2017 club with a solid showing in the second half. If he can continue that work in spring, he would have a very good shot of making the team.
But Narvaez also never played above High A before last season, so he could benefit from a veteran presence to help him in his second season. Soto could be that player, but he’ll have to prove himself healthy after playing in just 26 games in 2016.
Alfredo Gonzalez, who joined the Sox via trade in July, is another catcher the Sox have mentioned as a possibility down the road. But he spent the majority of last season in Double A, with just one Triple-A game last year. Kevan Smith and Roberto Pena are others who will be in the catching mix this spring.
The Sox hope Zack Collins, the No. 10 overall pick in 2016, is their catcher of the future, but he still has minor-league work to get there.
What does the starting rotation order look like? — @daviemars
The order is still to be determined, but Jose Quintana would most certainly be the opening-day starter if he is not traded by April. Carlos Rodon likely would check in as the No. 2 starter in his third season in the majors.
Carson Fulmer and newcomers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez all might have a shot at joining the rotation this season, but it’s possible they’ll start the year at Triple-A Charlotte to work out any issues before they join the Sox.