Will Jim Crane have trouble with Major League Baseball over old discrimination complaints?

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Richard Sandomir of the New York Times has a story this morning about the owner-in-waiting of the Houston Astros, Jim Crane, and a history of discrimination complaints with the EEOC against Crane’s company, Eagle Global Logistics:

Eagle, run by a former college pitcher named Jim Crane, had failed to promote blacks, Hispanics and women into managerial positions, the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found. Eagle had also demoted women from managerial positions, maintained a hostile workplace, paid blacks, Hispanics and women less than male and white counterparts, and shredded important documents, the agency said.

There was a large fine — $8.5 million — leveled by the EEOC after Eagle agreed to a consent decree, but the fine was subsequently walked back in major fashion when it was found that only about 10% of the specific claims were worthy of compensation. Which doesn’t mean that discrimination didn’t occur, mind you, though it could mean that. The key here is that these aren’t findings in litigation. They’re administrative in nature and the burden of proof is much lower than in a lawsuit.  These things can be messy.

Sandomir presents all of this by way of wondering if the discrimination complaints may cause bumps in the road to Crane’s ownership approval by Major League Baseball.

It seems like a major stretch to think it would.  Crane has been known to Major League Baseball for some time — he tried to buy the Astros once before and was close to getting the Rangers last year — so if MLB found him odious for some reason, they would have said something already.  Sandomir claims that someone did say something off the record about it all at one point, but that was denied by MLB’s Rob Manfred.

I have no idea about the merits of the actual discrimination claims, but I think this is much ado about nothing as far as Crane’s approval in the ownership group goes.  Drayton McLane is a good buddy of Bud Selig’s. If Selig felt like there was going to be any kind of a problem here, he would have let McLane know about it a long time ago so as not to put him in a tough spot.

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.