Indians finalize minor-league deal with Cristian Guzman

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UPDATE: It’s now a done deal.

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After sitting out all of last season Cristian Guzman is expected to sign a minor-league contract with the Indians, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

Guzman, who made All-Star teams as a shortstop in 2001 and 2008, will be invited to spring training to compete for a bench spot.

At age 34 he’s likely to be stretched defensively at shortstop, but Guzman also has some experience at second base and has played sparingly in the outfield as well. He hit .266 with a .311 on-base percentage and .337 slugging percentage in 104 games for the Nationals and Rangers in 2010 and wasn’t much better in 2009, so even a bench gig is far from a sure thing.

Still, as a switch-hitter with good contact skills and plenty of middle infield experience he’s a decent no-risk pickup to compete with, among others, Jack Hannahan, Jason Donald, and Jose Lopez. Cleveland skipper Manny Acta managed Guzman in Washington.

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.