The White Sox made a big early strike in the free agent market, signing Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73MM contract that stands as the priciest deal in franchise history. Here some of the early reactions to the signing…
- Grandal and White Sox GM Rick Hahn spoke with reporters — including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin and The Athletic’s James Fegan — during a conference call today today, detailing how the two sides came together. The White Sox quickly reached out to Grandal’s representatives as soon as free agency opened, and met with Grandal and his team during last week’s GM Meetings. Manager Rick Renteria was a familiar face to Grandal from their time together in San Diego (when Renteria was the Padres’ bench coach), and Grandal was impressed by Chicago’s core of young pitchers. “If I see that I can help that pitching staff, for me that’s pretty much No. 1,” Grandal said. “So, their sales pitch was, ’Look at the young arms we have, look at the guys we have coming up. We have an opportunity here to win, and we think you can help them out.’ ” To that end, Hahn said that two days after the get-together at the GM Meetings, Grandal asked to see video of Sox pitchers to get more information about his future teammates.
- The White Sox were perhaps something of a surprise suitor for Grandal, given that Chicago was thought to be relatively set behind the plate after James McCann’s solid 2019 season. Since Grandal could see time at first base or DH, however, there appears to be a path for McCann to still receive a good chunk of playing time. “Having too many guys who are quality big leaguers is a good thing, not something we view as a problem,” Hahn said. “We want to provide Rick [Renteria] with enough flexibility and different options to set a quality lineup each day.”
- More roster holes need to be filled before the White Sox can call themselves contenders in 2020, as Hahn was quick to downplay the Grandal signing as a big statement. “There certainly is a level of excitement of what we had done even prior to this signing today, but until we actually convert on some of these targets, the words are just that,” Hahn said. “I leave it to [the media] to interpret messages and all that stuff….If, in fact, other free agents see this move today as reinforcement to some of the things they’ve heard from us over the past several weeks or even going back to last year, that’s great. Hopefully there will be further moves over the course of the next several months that will continue that positive narrative.”
- While the White Sox were the most ardent suitor, Grandal noted that his latest trip through free agency drew much more interest than last winter, when Grandal settled for a one-year deal with the Brewers. “Quite frankly, unlike last year around this time when the market was kind of completely non-existent, this year, it was slightly different,” Grandal said. “It seemed like there were several teams that were working hard within their limits to be able to compete and there were thorough teams that were really interested.”
- The Brewers and Blue Jays were previously known to have interest in Grandal this offseason, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) adds that the Reds, Angels, and Braves were also among the top suitors, though Atlanta may have just “checked in” on Grandal’s status. Cincinnati was MLBTR’s predicted landing spot for Grandal, as the Reds as known to be willing to spend in pursuit of a postseason berth in 2020 and Grandal represented a clear upgrade over Tucker Barnhart. Catcher was also a glaring area of need for the Angels, while the Braves have one capable regular in Tyler Flowers but are in need of a complement after Brian McCann’s retirement.