Veteran free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal is on his way to Chicago’s South Side to help the White Sox go from rebuilding to contenders
The Chicago White Sox missed out on their big free agent targets last offseason. Determined not to let that happen again, General Manager Rick Hahn made the first splash in the 2020 free agent market.
The White Sox announced on Thursday that they’ve signed free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
The contract, which runs until 2023, will pay the 31-year-old two-time All-Star $18.25 million per season, making him the third-highest paid catcher in the league behind Buster Posey and Yadier Molina.
Grandal helps Chicago both offensively and behind the plate. He’s the only catcher with at least 20 home runs in each of the last four seasons. He led all catchers in 2019 with a .380 on-base percentage, while his 17.2 percent walk rate was four points higher than any other catcher with at least 300 plate appearances. He was third at the position with 28 home runs and behind only Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto with 77 RBI.
Defensively, Grandal is one of the best framers of pitches in baseball. He saved the Brewers’ pitching staff 17 runs last season, second in the league behind the Padres’ Austin Hedges. James McCann, the White Sox regular catcher in 2019, was 35th out of 37 in that category.
The signing of Grandal is the latest attempt by Hahn and Executive Vice President Kenny Williams to turn around a franchise that hasn’t made the postseason since 2008. While they failed to sign Manny Machado last offseason, the White Sox have still compiled a deep roster of young players.
Tim Anderson is 26 and led the league with a .335 batting average last season. Yoan Moncada is 24 and finally on the verge of fulfilling the promise he had when the Red Sox signed him out of Cuba, while 22-year-old Eloy Jimenez hit 31 home runs in his rookie season in 2019. Lucas Giolito, 24, won 14 games and stands to benefit from Grandal’s veteran leadership. But they have no postseason experience, something Grandal boasts plenty of. He’s played 33 postseason games in his career and has made the playoffs each of the last five seasons.
Williams says the acquisition of Grandal continues the long-term strategy that he’s been pursuing. “This was all planned,” he told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Thursday. “Going back five years ago when we started this and started thinking about this. We get ourselves in position with our young core and we could augment it with guys like this.”
“It’s (clear) we’re trying to put ourselves in a window that could very well start next year but extend to the next five to seven years.”
With the return of first first baseman Jose Abreu – the cornerstone of the franchise for the last six seasons – and the addition of Grandal, it seems like the White Sox are ready to make the turn from rebuilding and stockpiling young talent to winning and contending in 2020 and beyond.