Chicago White Sox make first big splash of the off-season; Sign Yasmani Grandal

The Chicago White Sox had been rumored to be targeting Grandal since the end of the season and well, today they got it done. Yasmani Grandal is headed to the South Side for 4 years, $73 million, which is reportedly the biggest contract in club history.

Last season Grandal put up career highs in Home runs (28), RBIs (77), runs (79), and walks (109). His batting average last year was just that, average, at .246. But, his On-base % was .380 and his OPS was .848. For reference, his OBP  was good enough for 18th in the league (2nd among catchers) and ranked right around the likes of Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, George Springer, and Xander Boegaerts.  (FYIBryce Harper was at .372).

The only catcher that “technically” had a higher OBP was his teammate in Milwaukee, who logged 6 at-bats last season. So he’s tops at the position. All of these numbers combined earned Grandal a spot on the NL All-Star roster last year, his second since joining the league in 2012. A little side note, although he doesn’t put up 30+ HRs a year, he does lead the league (for catchers) in HRs since 2015 with 117.

Outside of the solid numbers, he’s got a reputation as an excellent pitch framer. White Sox GM Rick Hahn acknowledged as much in the team’s announcement Thursday morning:

“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. 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.”

The Sox had a pretty solid backstop between James McCann, Wellington Castillo, and Zack Collins last year. Ok, that mention of Castillo was a joke…Glad he got the hell out of town. However, McCann was on fire prior to the All-Star game batting .318, OBP of .371, OPS of .873, with 9 HRs, 30RBI and 18 walks, which earned him an All-Star selection, but he did tail off at the end of the season. Collins is a Top 150 prospect but spent time between the minors and The Show.

He logged 27 games with the White Sox, showed some flashes, but just wasn’t quite there yet. It will be interesting to see how the catcher situation plays out and one of these guys may be on the move. I doubt anyone is trading for McCann, so the Sox may view Collins as expendable for the right price.

I feel like great catchers are few and far between, and he’s proven he can be consistent while leading the league in numerous categories. Right now without looking, can you name 5 really good, or even solid catchers? Maybe you can, but my point is there isn’t a lot. It’s a position that doesn’t have a lot of depth and not everyone can play. So locking up Grandal is a big move to provide some stability for the next 4 years.

After missing out on some big free agents the last off-season, the White Sox are primed to make some big moves. The window for contention is hitting right now which has been the plan all along. Being the first team to make a big splash shows the Sox are committed, but now need to shift their focus to a right fielder and at least one starting pitcher. Let’s see what Rick Hahn has got up his sleeve. This off-season is just getting started.

 

 

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