CHICAGO -- Andrew Vaughn, the No. 1 White Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline, should have the greatest 2021 impact of the 21 non-roster invites to big league Spring Training announced by the team Thursday.
But there are a number of other players on their way to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., who could help the White Sox with what they hope is a championship cause this season. That list includes catcher Jonathan Lucroy, one of the 14 free agents who the White Sox agreed to terms with on Minor League contracts.
Lucroy, 34, has a career slash line of .274/.335/.416 with 216 doubles, 108 home runs and 545 RBIs in 1,203 games over 11 Major League seasons with Milwaukee (2010-16), Texas (2016-17), Colorado (2017), Oakland (2018), the Angels (2019), the Cubs (2019) and Boston (2020). Jerry Narron was Lucroy’s initial offseason White Sox connection, and after talking to the team’s new catching coach, Lucroy contacted manager Tony La Russa directly.
“[Narron] said, ‘Hey there’s an opportunity here. Tony likes veteran guys,’” said Lucroy during a Thursday Zoom. “I put a call in to Tony La Russa and said, ‘Look I would love to play for you. I hated to play against you whenever you were managing with the Cardinals. But I would love to play for you if you see there’s a spot somewhere for me to have an opportunity to try to make the team.’ That’s how it kind of went about.
“We talked several times after that. I just kept expressing my interest. It’s a good opportunity to win. I’m a 34-year-old catcher. I’ve been to the playoffs four times now. The furthest we’ve gotten is the NLCS against the Cardinals in 2011, which they ended up going on to win the World Series that year. I just want another chance to win and a chance to put a ring on my finger and an opportunity to make a team that has a chance to win.”
The remaining free agents agreeing to Minor League contracts with the White Sox are right-handed pitchers Ryan Burr, Tayron Guerrero, Alex McRae, Félix Paulino, Connor Sadzeck and Mike Wright, left-handers Jacob Lindgren, Kodi Medeiros and Matt Tomshaw, infielders Tim Beckham, Marco Hernández and Matt Reynolds and outfielder Nick Williams. All 14 players received non-roster invites to Spring Training, as did seven other players from within the organization.
That list includes right-handed pitchers Danny Dopico, Kade McClure and Emilio Vargas, left-hander Bennett Sousa, catcher Carlos Pérez and infielder Zach Remillard to go with Vaughn. It’s uncertain whether the 22-year-old Vaughn breaks camp with the team, but MLB Pipeline’s No. 14 prospect overall should be the White Sox designated hitter sooner than later.
White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Wednesday, including physicals and a workout. Position players will report and undergo physicals on Feb. 22, with the first full-squad workout taking place on the same day.
James McCann’s departure to the Mets via free agency makes Lucroy an interesting addition. The White Sox have Zack Collins, Yermín Mercedes and Seby Zavala on the 40-man roster, but Lucroy’s veteran presence is a good bet as the primary backup to Yasmani Grandal.
Lucroy herniated a disc in his neck at the end of 2016 after hitting .292 with 24 homers and 81 RBIs between the Brewers and Rangers. He had a disc replacement done in his neck in November '19, and he feels great following the recovery.
“Now it's about getting the opportunity and getting back out there and showing teams I've still got it,” Lucroy said. “I'm going to go in there and play the best I can, and whatever they see the fit as, that's not up for me to decide.
“That's up to Tony and the people up top, all the front-office guys. I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to go out and do my best, try to play as good as I can to make the team and help these pitchers get better and perform to the peak of their ability. That's it.”