I’m not sure anyone anywhere really thinks Alex Rodriguez playing high-stakes poker is a big deal, but with MLB repeatedly telling him to stop gambling and his involvement in Hollywood home games making headlines recently you’d think he might at least give it a rest for a while.
Instead the New York Post reports that Rodriguez “was spotted last Monday in a high-stakes gaming room at the Mohegan Sun Casino in the Poconos” while rehabbing his surgically repaired knee with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team at Triple-A.
That’s perfectly legal, of course, and Rodriguez is surely far from the only MLB player to gamble for high stakes in a casino, but that tells you how little he cares about MLB’s warnings.
When asked about the Post‘s report Rodriguez denied that he played poker, calling it “laughable” and “completely false.” And that might be true, as the high-stakes room he reportedly spent a couple hours in is mostly used for blackjack and slot machines. Either way, Bud Selig and company probably aren’t too happy and Rodriguez clearly couldn’t care less.
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.