The Chicago White Sox signed All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract, the team announced Thursday. The contract is the largest in franchise history from a monetary standpoint.
Grandal, 30, is coming off an All-Star 2019 campaign which saw him .246 with 28 home runs and 77 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Grandal also earned top-15 MVP consideration.
Grandal’s career year at the plate–he posted career highs in home runs, RBIs, walks (109), on-base percentage (.380) and on-base plus slugging (.848)–coincided with a contract year, making him a top target on the free agent market. Grandal received a four-year, $60 million offer from the New York Mets last offseason, but opted to sign a one-year, $16 million deal with the Brewers instead, betting on himself to boost his value ahead of the 2020 free agency period.
Grandal, who played with the San Diego Padres while manager Rick Renteria served as the Padres’ bench coach, impressed White Sox president Ken Williams with his receptiveness to the White Sox’ message and culture.
“He’s such a quality guy,” William said at the MLB owner’s meetings. “And for him to understand our messaging, our goals, our path, and to say, ‘I want to be a part of that and I’m going to commit to it early so we can move on to the next thing heading into the winter meetings,’ just shows what kind of character we’re talking about.”
Grandal issued a statement lauding the White Sox’ approach and thanking the organization for its interest.
“My family and I are very excited and honored to be a part of the Chicago White Sox organization,” said Grandal. “I loved their professionalism, preparation and vision towards the future. I want to thank them for allowing me to be a part of this process moving forward.”
The switch-hitting Grandal is expected to compete for starting catching duties with incumbent James McCann. Grandal joins a promising White Sox offense that features 2019 American League Batting Champion Tim Anderson, 2019 RBI Champion Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez. The Sox also expect USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year Luis Robert and 2018 first-round draft pick (No. 4 overall) Nick Madrigal to join the major league roster for the 2020 season.
In order to make space for Grandal, the White Sox’ designated outfielder Daniel Palka for assignment.
What does this mean going forward
The acquisition of Grandal creates a backlog at the catcher’s position for the White Sox. 2019 All-Star James McCann, 29, served as the Sox’ primary backstop last season, hitting .273 with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs. Renowned for his defensive prowess, McCann had a breakout first half before enduring an extended slump after the All-Star break. McCann’s 90-point drop in batting average from the first half of the season to second half forced the Sox to explore free-agent alternatives, opening the door for the Sox to sign Grandal.
Grandal’s signing also casts the future of 2016 first-round draft pick Zack Collins into doubt. Collins, who possesses an uncanny ability to draw walks, has struggled with offensive consistency in the minor leagues. However, following a mid-July demotion, Collins recalibrated his plate approach, raising his average at AAA Charlotte from .255 to .282.
The White Sox also added catcher Yermin Mercedes to their 40-man roster, subsequently blocking his eligibility to be selected in today’s Rule 5 Draft. Mercedes, whose ability to throw out base stealers is negated by a stone glove, appears to be a prime candidate to audition for the White Sox’ vacancy at designated hitter barring an additional free agent acquisition.
The White Sox also haven’t had much luck when acquiring low-average power hitters on the wrong side of 30. Adam LaRoche, Adam Dunn and Welington Castillo all failed to make the impact that the Sox had hoped for upon signing. Both LaRoche and Castillo lasted only one season on the South Side. In Dunn’s first season with the Sox, he hit a ghastly .159 with only 11 home runs over 122 games. Over four years with the White Sox, Dunn labored to a .201 batting average, 65 points lower than his accumulative average across two seasons with the Washington Nationals.
Nevertheless, the Grandal signing indicates the dawn of a new era on the South Side. As stated by agent Scott Boras, “Players look at the White Sox in a very different way than they did two years ago.” The Sox’ aggressive and successful pursuit of a high-impact free agent marks the commencement of a new philosophical approach from the Sox’ front office. The White Sox promised to spend the money they have available and are now on a mission to make good on their vow.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our breakdown of White Sox’ catchers