Lots of names have been linked to the White Sox’s managerial opening since Ozzie Guillen went to the Marlins on September 28, but in the end the choice came out of nowhere.
In a surprise move the White Sox announced that Robin Ventura will replace Guillen as their new manager.
Ventura played 10 seasons for the White Sox as a power-hitting, Gold Glove-winning (and Nolan Ryan-fighting) third baseman–with Guillen often next to him at shortstop–retiring in 2004 at age 36. Since then he’s been a television analyst for college games on ESPN
“I wanted someone who met very specific criteria centered around his leadership abilities and Robin Ventura was that man,” general manager Ken Williams told reporters.
This is a certainly a bold, shocking move by Williams and the White Sox, but Ventura’s lack of experience makes it tough to have an opinion on his ability to do the job. He’s generally well respected around baseball, but has zero coaching track record aside from working with his son’s high school team.
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.