White Sox sign Yasmani Grandal
This year’s free agent class is already starting to move more quickly than the last couple of years. Granted, that’s not really saying much since the last couple of years have been molasses but it’s still nice. Last week the Braves made a splash by signing the top reliever on the market, and now the top catcher is off the market. In a somewhat surprising move, the White Sox are the team who made the plunge, signing Yasmani Grandal to a four-year deal worth $73 million. Somewhat pathetically, this is actually the largest contract the White Sox have ever handed out.
Grandal is, of course, a great player and probably the second best catcher in baseball right now. Long one of the best pitch framers in baseball, he should make an immediate impact there as he’ll replace James McCann, who graded out as one of the worst in that regard. In addition to the defense, Grandal is an above-average hitter, which is rare for catchers today. he draws a ton of walks and has some real pop at the plate, all helping him to be at least a four-win player (by FanGraphs WAR) in each of the last five seasons. He will obviously catch most of the time for the White Sox, but they will reportedly give him some time at first base and DH as well.
As for Chicago themselves, this is a signal that they are ready to start going for it and supplement their young talent with some proven veterans. Grandal should only be step one of that process, with a big need for starting pitching as well. Zack Wheeler has been connected to them as well. I don’t think the White Sox roster is quite there yet, but they are close particularly with top prospects Nick Madrigal and Luis Robert both ready for the majors. They’ll be held down due to service time implications to start the year, but they’ll be up sooner than later. This is a team that could very well push for a Wildcard spot in 2020 if they keep going this winter and everything goes right next year.
Sox Spin: I’m not really sure there’s a ton of Red Sox connection here. Grandal was never going to sign in Boston, both because the Red Sox aren’t going to spend that money on anyone this winter and that they already have a catcher in Christian Vázquez. The White Sox, as mentioned above, could be a competitor for a playoff spot, but more needs to happen before I’ll totally buy that.