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White Sox re-sign catcher Xavier Fernández to minors deal

by Joe Binder

The White Sox strengthened their minor-league catching depth this past week.

Before the addition of former Royals catcher Sebastian Rivero on Dec. 13, the team agreed to terms on a new minor league deal with free agent Xavier Fernández. According to Fernández’s MiLB.com player page, the contract became official on Dec. 9, and he’s since been assigned to Triple-A Charlotte.

Fernández, 27, was originally drafted by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft. He went on to spend the majority of his professional career with the Kansas City organization before he elected free agency in November 2019. The White Sox snatched him up in late February 2020, and he’s gone on to play for High-A Winston-Salem (four-game rehab stint), Double-A Birmingham, and Triple-A Charlotte.

On the offensive end, Fernández hit a combined .268/.322/.362 with four homers and 32 RBI in 311 plate appearances this past season. Most of that can be attributed to his time in Double-A Birmingham, where he slashed an impressive .311/.366/.387 in 30 games to start the year. That line would drop significantly after his Triple-A promotion to .238/.289/.345 over the remaining 49 contests.

Putting those numbers aside, Fernández has long been known for his defense behind the plate and has received many positive reviews. Drew Osborne of the Royals Farm Report wrote an article ahead of the 2018 Rule 5 draft, where he had the following to say:

Honestly, I think Fernández could have been a backup catcher in the bigs during this season. His defense is outstanding.  Fernández blocks well and is a tremendous receiver with soft hands that frame well. As far as throwing, he has gunned down minor league runners at a 39% pace in his career and 41% this season in NWA. His throws are low, on the money, and carry well. Of all the catchers I’ve seen at NWA this season, he is the best overall.  

via RoyalsFarmReport.com

As with last year, Fernández will likely receive another non-roster invite to spring training, though his current chances of seeing major league action aren’t the greatest. Barring any additional moves, Yasmani Grandal looks to be the primary option at catcher as the team hopes for a bounceback performance. Beyond him, Carlos Pérez and Seby Zavala are on the 40-man roster and both will likely see the rest of the action during the 2023 season. The newly signed Sebastian Rivero figures to provide additional depth at Triple-A Charlotte, and Fernández’s role will likely be similar as he’ll continue to spend the rest of his playing time at first base or DH.

Be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th for additional White Sox updates throughout the offseason!

Featured Photo: Southern Intrigue Photography

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