The Pirates had some extra help in the dugout Tuesday night, with Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski and former center fielder Bill Virdon added to the coaching staff.
According to the Tribune-Review, the Pirates got permission from the Twins to add a couple of extra coaches for their series against Minnesota.
“This isn’t a fantasy camp thing; this isn’t spring training,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re going to have them here to help coach and teach and have them at least feel part of it more throughout the game. We brought them in for them to bring us something, and hopefully we can give them something in return and everybody wins.”
Mazeroski, maybe the best defensive second baseman in major league history, was selected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 2001. He spent his entire 17-year career with the Pirates. Virdon was never an All-Star in the bigs, but his glove made him a regular in center for 11 seasons. He was also a two-time Manager of the Year, first with the Yankees and later with the Astros.
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.