White Sox

White Sox make big free-agent splash, sign Yasmani Grandal to richest contract in team history

White Sox make big free-agent splash, sign Yasmani Grandal to richest contract in team history

The White Sox have made a big free-agent splash.

The team announced Thursday it signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year deal worth $73 million, the richest contract in team history, surpassing the $68 million Jose Abreu received over the course of six years when he arrived from Cuba ahead of the 2014 season.

After turning down a multi-year contract a year ago, he bet on himself in 2019, taking a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. It worked. Grandal reached base at a .380 clip and posted an .848 OPS, his highest marks in those categories since his 60-game rookie season in 2012. He hit a career-high 28 home runs, had a career-high 77 RBIs and walked a career-high 109 times. In addition to all that offensive production, the 31-year-old Grandal has a solid reputation as a pitch-framer.

“Yasmani ranks among the very elite catchers in Major League Baseball today, and we are extremely happy to add a durable and talented player of his caliber to our lineup,” general manager Rick Hahn said in the team's announcement. “His selectivity at the plate is a real plus offensively, and as a switch hitter, his combination of power and on-base percentage stand out. Yasmani’s defensive abilities, pitch framing and other advanced catching metrics also separate him from others in the game.

“In addition to what he brings to the field, Yasmani is also a great benefit in the clubhouse. We foresee him playing an integral role on both the further development of our young pitchers and the continued improvement of our offense as we reach our championship goals.”

Grandal gives the White Sox a long-term answer at catcher, a position that wasn't on the team's offseason to-do list. The White Sox converted on an opportunity to add stability there with a player of Grandal's caliber.

The White Sox already had an All Star at catcher in James McCann, but after a tremendous first half, McCann slashed just .226/.281/.413 in 55 games after the All-Star break. Under team control for one more season, McCann now provides the White Sox with a solid backup backstop, bringing his much celebrated work ethic and work with the pitching staff behind Grandal on the depth chart. As for where Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes fit into the mix, we'll have to wait and see.

With the Grandal signing, Hahn starts what's expected to be a busy White Sox offseason with a bang. The contract is the biggest in franchise history and shows the team has an intention to spend big as they transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

There are still numerous needs to address — the stated goals of adding a right fielder, designated hitter and two starting pitchers — but this signing is the kind of upgrade and the kind of splash White Sox fans have been clamoring for.

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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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Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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