Rays will have 11 of the top 75 picks in this year’s draft

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This morning I noted that free agents departing the Rays this offseason have signed elsewhere for a total of $215 million and since then Grant Balfour raised that figure even higher by signing a multi-year deal with the A’s.

While most of the focus has understandably been on the Rays losing so much major-league talent, having that many Type A and Type B free agents leave in one offseason also means Tampa Bay will be absolutely flush with draft picks in June.

The draft order isn’t official yet because there are still several Type A and Type B free agents on the market, but based on early projections from Jim Callis of Baseball America and Jason Collette at Dock of the Rays, it looks like the Rays will have 11 of the first 75 picks in this year’s draft.

Here’s a rough estimate of where they’ll be picking come June and how they got each pick:

24 (Red Sox’s pick for Carl Crawford)
31 (Yankees’ pick for Rafael Soriano)
32 (Rays’ own pick)
38 (Supplemental pick for Soriano)
41 (Supplemental pick for Crawford)
42 (Supplemental pick for Balfour)
51 (Supplemental pick for Joaquin Benoit)
55 (Supplemental pick for Randy Choate)
58 (Supplemental pick for Brad Hawpe)
59 (Supplemental pick for Chad Qualls)
75 (A’s pick for Balfour)

Oh, and the Rays also have their own second-round pick, which is 88th overall, giving them 12 of the top 88 picks. Based on Victor Wang’s work on draft pick value over at The Hardball Times, those 12 picks are likely worth around $30 million in surplus value over the cost to sign them. That won’t help Tampa Bay contend in 2011, but it’ll go a long way toward keeping the farm system stocked for years to come.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.