A crowded White Sox catching situation got slightly less so Friday.
Kevan Smith is heading to the Los Angeles Angels, who claimed the 30-year-old catcher off waivers.
The #Angels have claimed C Kevan Smith off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.— Angels PR (@LAAngelsPR) October 26, 2018
To make room on the 40-man roster, C Joe Hudson has been designated for assignment.
Smith was one of three catchers the White Sox had at the end of the 2018 season, along with Omar Narvaez and Welington Castillo. Smith didn't make the Opening Day roster but ended up playing in 52 games, getting far more action than expected thanks to Castillo's 80-game drug suspension.
The White Sox were likely going to face a decision on which of those three catchers to jettison come the spring, with Smith out of options and it being very unlikely they would carry three catchers on the major league roster in 2019. That decision was going to get trickier with catching prospect Seby Zavala needing to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft in December.
And all of this is without mentioning 2016 first-round pick Zack Collins, one of the White Sox 10 highest-ranked prospects, who is perhaps still the favorite to be the team's catcher of the future. He and Zavala will both likely start 2019 at Triple-A Charlotte, and strong showings there could mean one or both of them finding their way to the big leagues before season's end.
So to put it simply, there wasn't room left for Smith.
Quietly, though, Smith was one of the team's better offensive players in 2018, a reflection on the White Sox less-than-ideal team-wide offensive production rather than Smith's statistical excellent. He finished with a .292/.348/.380 slash line in 187 plate appearances, ranking second on the team to Narvaez in batting average and on-base percentage.
Narvaez led the team in those two categories and ranked second to Jose Abreu in OPS, perhaps making him the best choice for the starting job next season. That being said, Castillo is under a multi-million-dollar contract for one more season (with a team option for 2020) and without a suspension taking away half his season, he could finally emerge as the veteran presence the White Sox were hoping he'd be in 2018, helping the young pitching staff evolve into the staff of the future.