After a wholly disappointing 2023 season, the White Sox are already looking to the offseason ahead. New general manager Chris Getz is committed to improving the team for 2024, and considering just how much went wrong this past year, he has no shortage of areas to upgrade. As Bruce Levine reports for 670 The Score, the team has identified veterans Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield as two potential offseason targets, and the front office has discussed the possibility of trading for Perez and signing Merrifield “at length.” Getz and manager Pedro Grifol are quite familiar with both players, having worked with them in the Royals organization.
With Yasmani Grandal reaching free agency after the World Series, the White Sox will need a new catcher in 2024. The 25-year-old Korey Lee is an option, but the top prospect didn’t look ready for full-time big league action this year, going 5-for-65 in 23 games across August and September. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Edgar Quero had a solid year at Double-A, but the promising young backstop still needs more seasoning in the minor leagues. With that in mind, it stands to reason the White Sox would be interested in a veteran catcher. Perez could handle the position next year, but he could also step into a smaller role if Lee or Quero forces the issue.
However, while a veteran catcher makes sense for Chicago, Perez in particular is something of a strange target. He is coming off a rough year at the plate (.714 OPS, 86 wRC+) and behind the dish. As he heads into his age-34 season, it’s not hard to believe the eight-time All-Star is entering the decline phase of his career. What’s more, Perez is owed $42MM over the next two seasons, plus a $2MM buyout on his club option for 2026, which is a lot of money for a player who could be past his prime. If the White Sox want the Royals to eat some of his salary, they’d have to send back a more enticing return package. That would seem counterproductive for a team trying to build a contender.
For their part, the Royals are under no pressure to trade their captain. Freddy Fermin could take over behind the dish if Perez were dealt, but the Royals don’t need to part with their longest-tenured player just to get Fermin more playing time. In addition, former catcher MJ Melendez has comfortably settled into a corner outfield role. Kansas City entertained the possibility of dealing Perez at the deadline (and the White Sox were among those interested), but a deal never materialized. Presumably, it would take the perfect offer for the Royals to trade Perez, and it might take even more for them to trade him to a division rival.
Merrifield spent the first six-plus years of his MLB career with Kansas City before he was traded to Toronto at last year’s deadline. While he has an $18MM mutual option with the Blue Jays for 2024, the team is likely to turn down the option, making Merrifield a free agent after the conclusion of the World Series. The 34-year-old didn’t have as strong a season as his All-Star selection would have you believe, but he remains a productive and durable veteran player. As a versatile defender and talented baserunner, he fits the bill of athleticism the White Sox are supposedly looking for.
In 2023, Merrifield split his time between second base and the corner outfield, and he could do the same for the White Sox in 2024. Chicago needs a second baseman, but shortstop Tim Anderson has suggested he’d be willing to move into that role. If Anderson is covering the keystone, Merrifield could fill a valuable platoon role in the corner outfield, covering for one of the White Sox’s many lefty batters (Andrew Benintendi, Oscar Colás, and Gavin Sheets) against left-handed pitching. Suffice it to say, he is a better fit for Chicago than his former Royals teammate.