Yasmani Grandal

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

The baseball offseason is moving at a quicker pace than recent years, and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is among those happy to see that.

Hahn and the White Sox contributed to that quick start to the offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal on Nov. 21. He said he prefers that in an interview with Bruce Levine and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score on Saturday.

Hahn also gave an update on the team’s offseason.

“We still have work to do, but at the same time we’re obviously quite pleased to have added Yasmani Grandal, much to no one’s surprise bringing back Jose Abreu and we’re intrigued by some of the talks we have going on right now,” Hahn said. “Obviously you can’t convert on everything, a point that was publicly driven home this past week, but at the same time we know that regardless of whether we convert on one specific target or not, there are still a lot of reasons to be excited based on the guys we currently have, much less what we may add in the coming weeks.”

The comment about being unable to convert on everything is surely a reference to Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hahn didn’t give any hints as to what the White Sox are working on, but he did say he prefers the speed of this offseason.

“We’d certainly prefer to do things sooner rather than later,” Hahn said. “That’s generally true regardless of the time of year.”

If Hahn wants to get things done quickly, it would make sense that the winter meetings could be a time of White Sox activity. Hahn wasn’t biting on that.

“There’s nothing magical about getting a deal done Tuesday at the winter meetings,” Hahn said. “It creates a little more buzz perhaps and fulfills some expectations within the fanbase and the media.

“A guy is not going to have any less impact on your team if you acquire him Dec. 20 vs. Dec. 12.”

Hahn also gave updates on various current players on the team:

  • Yasmani Grandal has been studying up on White Sox pitchers and how he can help the young pitchers develop.

“This guy’s No. 1 goal and No. 1 priority is to make the pitchers better," Hahn said. "He’s texting me two, three times a week still with stuff he had seen on our guys and conversations he’s had with our guys about how he thinks we’re going to be able to get them better in the coming months.”

  • Hahn was asked if the White Sox would add another middle infielder to provide cover until Nick Madrigal comes up. He didn't rule it out, but cited Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick as capable of helping out. Hahn has previously said he expects Madrigal to be up for most of the 2020 season.
  • Nothing new here, but Hahn said Michael Kopech will enter spring training "without restriction" and will have "some innings management" throughout the season. Kopech missed 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2018 season.
  • Carlos Rodon's timeline to return from Tommy John surgery hasn't changed. Hahn said they will re-evaluate him in April to see where he is after spring training. He is still tentatively expected to return in late July or early August.

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Brewers acquire catcher Omar Narváez as replacement for Yasmani Grandal

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USA TODAY

Brewers acquire catcher Omar Narváez as replacement for Yasmani Grandal

The Brewers have found their replacement for catcher Yasmani Grandal, who left Milwaukee in free agency for the White Sox.

Thursday, Milwaukee acquired catcher Omar Narváez from the Mariners in exchange for No. 24 prospect Adam Hill (per MLB Pipeline) and their competitive balance pick. 

Narváez is one of the game’s better offensive catchers and posted a .278/.353/.460 slash line with 22 home runs in 132 games last season. However, he’s widely considered as one of the games worst defensive catchers (-20 Defensive Runs Saved in 2019) and pitch framers. Grandal, meanwhile, is one of the best pitch framers in baseball, so the Brewers will see a significant drop off there in 2020.

In addition to Grandal, the Brewers saw third baseman Mike Moustaskas sign a four-year deal with the Reds on Monday. Grandal and Moustakas were two of Milwaukee’s key offensive players in 2019, so they needed to replace that production somehow. Narváez fills a need offensively, and despite his defensive shortcomings, all it took was a low-ranked prospect.

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White Sox keep catching options open with one-year deal for James McCann

White Sox keep catching options open with one-year deal for James McCann

What will the White Sox catching corps look like come Opening Day?

It's hard to say exactly, but they have a bunch of options — and seem intent on keeping it that way.

The team announced a one-year, $5.4 million deal with James McCann on Monday, avoiding arbitration a few hours ahead of the non-tender deadline.

Of course, plenty still wonder what will become of McCann after the White Sox gave free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal the richest contract in team history a couple weeks back. While it seems that having two All-Star catchers is an inarguably good thing, there have been queries as to why catcher was the position the White Sox addressed in free agency with so many other positions on the to-do list.

Grandal's acquisition stabilized a position that despite McCann's All-Star status was steamrolling toward 2020 with some huge question marks. McCann was deservedly invited to the Midsummer Classic thanks to a .316/.371/.502 slash line in the first half. But after the All-Star break, McCann slashed just .226/.281/.413, numbers far more reminiscent of his five years with the Detroit Tigers, which ended in him being non-tendered at this time a year ago. So which level of production will the White Sox get in 2020? It's an unknown. Grandal has a far longer track record of offensive success.

Of course, there are far more benefits to keeping McCann around for another year than simply the hope that he'll be more first half than second half. He earned rave reviews for his work with the pitchers and for his tireless efforts in game planning. He's a positive presence in the White Sox clubhouse and received a ton of praise from Lucas Giolito, who McCann worked with often during the pitcher's transformational season that saw him turn into the ace of the starting staff.

The White Sox can take advantage of those positives and consider any return to the All-Star level of offensive production a bonus, with Grandal figuring to get the lion's share of the at-bats in the No. 1 catcher position. If McCann is the team's No. 2 catcher, that means the White Sox have a catching duo to be really excited about.

"I’m sure he’s (saying), ‘Gosh, we just signed a guy and gave him a multiple-year contract. Where do I fit?’ Well, I made him understand," manager Rick Renteria said of McCann after the Grandal signing. "The conversation we had was, he knows how I feel about him. The whole organization knows how I feel about him. I love Mac, and I think that this addition does not detract from who he is and what he brings to the table as White Sox.

"I wanted him to know that we’re going to make this work. I think that all players when you make a change or add, they deserve to have a conversation with the man that is putting the lineup together. I just said, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it. This will work itself out.’ It will. It always does. Things happen and right now this is a move that the organization felt that could us in a better position moving forward. Rick (Hahn) and everyone pulled the trigger, and we’re glad we did because we’re getting better."

Of course, the White Sox could also cash in on McCann coming off his All-Star season in a trade, should they find an opportunity to upgrade the roster elsewhere. While Zack Collins is even more of an unknown, considering his limited big league experience, the White Sox are searching for ways to get his bat in the lineup. He has faced questions about his defense since he was drafted, but he could take over the No. 2 spot behind Grandal, if need be. Collins could also be a third catcher, behind Grandal and McCann, if the White Sox decide that's how they want to use the 26th spot on the expanded rosters.

The White Sox also could keep all three and use them as part of a four-man rotation at catcher, designated hitter and first base with Jose Abreu.

On top of all that, the White Sox have two heretofore unmentioned catchers still on the 40-man roster, Seby Zavala and Yermin Mercedes, who could fit into this puzzle somehow, as well, depending on how the rest of the offseason plays out.

The point is that there are a lot of options, and that's now assured by the new one-year deal for McCann.

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