Sox in '15: Catching on behind the plate

No doubt a topic of conversation in the Chicago White Sox's think tank is what to do with the catching position.

Tyler Flowers was solid at calling games again in 2014, but his offense was sporadic, from a hot start as a singles hitter, to a sudden slump to a resurgence at the start of the second half that most people wanted to credit to his change from contact lenses to sport glasses.

There was also Josh Phegley's flourish to close out the season as a September call-up. He had an extra-base hit in each of his last three games, including a two-homer game on Sept. 27 against the Kansas City Royals, who were trying to chase down the Detroit Tigers for the division title at the time.

Not to go unnoticed was Adrian Nieto's impressive showing as Flowers' backup at the position this season. Nieto batted just .236 with a .340 slugging percentage in 48 games, but after never appearing above Single-A before this past season, his ability to adapt to the game's highest level was impressive.

As a Rule 5 selection in the offseason, Nieto had to remain on the active roster all year or else the White Sox would risk losing him back to his former club, the Washington Nationals.

Flowers still appears to be in the lead to get the starting job again next season, unless the White Sox decide to use some of their spending cash this winter to upgrade behind the plate.

The best of the free agent catchers on the market appears to be the Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin, who is 32 and has tons of experience not only with the Pirates, but with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

Martin won't come cheap since he made $8.5 million in 2014 and is no doubt looking for something lengthier than the two-year $17 million deal he signed with the Pirates to start the 2013 season.

And Martin figures to have plenty of other suitors, including those ready to contend immediately, all of which would make it tougher on the White Sox to land him.

Other free agent options include Gerald Laird, Jeff Mathis, David Ross and Geovany Soto, all a good-size step down from Martin and not a guaranteed better option over Flowers, who will be 29 next season.

And with the way the White Sox were willing to make deals last winter, namely two with the Arizona Diamondbacks, putting a deal together that includes a catcher in a return package is always a possibility.

Adding it all up, though, giving Flowers another shot looks to be the likely route the White Sox take, unless they end up packaging him in a trade.

Flowers is a good teammate, works well with the pitching staff, he didn't even make $1 million in 2014, which means he won't break the bank as an arbitration-eligible player, and will come three to four times cheaper than somebody like Martin.

While many White Sox followers might find a change at catcher to be a little more enticing, the White Sox could be inclined to stick with what they have for at least another season. Flowers knows the pitching staff, can supply power at the bottom of the order when his swing is right and fits into the mold of team-first personalities the team is trying to compile.

And if by keeping Flowers it means there is more money to spend on areas like the bullpen, perhaps, that can't be a bad thing.

The White Sox could even go with Phegley as Flowers' backup, with the idea that Phegley plays much more than Nieto did this past season. As for Nieto, the prudent move would be to have him start the 2015 season at Triple-A Charlotte so he can get the steady at-bats he missed out on in 2014.