FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported in March that free agent Derrek Lee was open to continuing his career if presented with the right opportunity.
Well, that opportunity might finally be here.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Brewers are “definitely” interested in signing Lee to take over as their primary first baseman.
Mat Gamel, who was pegged as Prince Fielder’s replacement this winter, was diagnosed with a torn right ACL last week and is expected to undergo season-ending knee surgery. The 26-year-old was batting just .246/.293/.348.
The Brewers also lost shortstop Alex Gonzalez recently to a knee injury. He was a real source of power in the Milwaukee lineup (with four home runs in 24 games) but might be ruled out for the rest of the year.
Lee, 36, hit .267/.325/.446 with 19 home runs and 59 RBI last season between the Orioles and Pirates.
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.