Red Sox send Daniel Bard to Triple-A

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Daniel Bard’s move from the bullpen to the rotation has been anything but smooth, as the formerly dominant reliever posted a 5.30 ERA with more walks (36) than strikeouts (34) through 10 starts while showing significantly diminished velocity.

Bard failed to make it out of the second inning Sunday against the Blue Jays, walking six of the 13 batters he faced while allowing five runs, and manager Bobby Valentine hinted afterward that a change would be coming. And sure enough Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have sent Bard to Triple-A.

Presumably by sending Bard to the minors instead of moving him back to the bullpen the Red Sox are still planning to go forward with him as a starter. Or maybe they just think he’s so screwed up right now that he needs some Triple-A time even if he’s bullpen bound.

In 193 career relief appearances Bard has a 2.87 ERA, .190 opponents’ batting average, and 213 strikeouts in 198 innings, so realizing he’s not cut out to start and making him a setup man again is hardly disastrous for the Red Sox. Assuming, of course, that spending the past two months struggling as a starter hasn’t had some sort of permanent impact on the 26-year-old’s raw stuff and/or confidence.

And now there’s a spot in the rotation for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 5.1 innings of one-run ball in his last minor-league rehab start over the weekend and is seemingly close to returning from Tommy John surgery.

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.