The White Sox have a brand-spanking new catcher.
What they still don’t have is a new designated hitter. Maybe.
Grandal will be the team’s backstop, first and foremost, after signing a four-year deal that at $73 million is the richest in team history, but he might end up helping Rick Hahn solve the equation at DH, too. Like any catcher, he isn’t expected to throw on the gear and squat for nine innings on a daily basis. But he carries a big enough stick that the White Sox will want him in their lineup as often as possible. An appearance at DH every once in a while would be a good way to do just that.
But Grandal might wind up just one part of a multifaceted DH puzzle. He can also play first base, after all, appearing there in 20 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019. Jose Abreu is ticketed for the daily duties at that spot in 2020, but Hahn said last week that Abreu will play some DH, like he did in 2019. When Abreu needs a day off his feet, Grandal can play first base.
And then there are the team’s other catchers, James McCann and Zack Collins. While the kind of offensive output they’ll churn out in 2020 remains a mystery — one of the big reasons Grandal’s addition makes so much sense — rosters expanding to hold 26 players could mean they both stay on the big league roster, even with Grandal in the fold. On days Grandal is behind the plate, perhaps Rick Renteria will utilize them as DH options.
"It gives us options there," Hahn said Thursday. "But it's Nov. 21. We've got a lot of offseason left. So let's see what else comes together over the coming months, and if in fact it winds up where Zack or a combination of Yasmani and James in the DH spot is the best option, then we'll see how that works out.
"It's a little too early to say that's exactly how it'll line up come late March."
It’s the rest of that offseason that could present the White Sox with Door No. 3.
Designated hitter has been one of the items on Hahn’s to-do list since the offseason began, and he said just last week that the solution to the hole there — where the White Sox had some of the worst production in the American League — would likely be an external one.
Grandal counts as an external fix, but perhaps there’s a more everyday route the White Sox could go in free agency or via trade to add some thump to the lineup. Grandal is the kind of addition that makes the White Sox transitioning from rebuilding to contending in 2020 look more realistic. While other moves would need to happen to make that more of a certainty, there’s the possibility of the team adding enough that a short-term fix at DH would make sense.
That’s all down the road, of course.
Nothing might be set in stone at DH at the moment, even after Thursday’s big signing. But among the many things Grandal brings to the South Side is that versatility, providing the White Sox with a number of paths to travel down in search of a solution.
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