The Astros sign Livan Hernandez to a minor league deal

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Houston Astros have signed Livan Hernandez to a minor league deal.

On a personal note, allow me to say how happy I am that he’s out of the NL East. He could be 98 years-old with an ERA of infinity and he’d still go eight innings while giving up one run on four hits against the Braves. It’s carved in stone someplace. God I really don’t like him.

Taking my bitter fan hat off, I’ll say that it’s a fine signing for the Astros.  The one thing Hernandez does better than messing with the Braves is taking the ball every five days and putting up something like 200 not-great-but-basically-serviceable innings a year.

When you’re a team going noplace like the Astros are, that’s really valuable. It saves the pen and takes pressure off the young arms. Getting a guy like that on a minor league deal that will probably turn into, what, a million bucks in major league salary this year is just good sense.

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.