No other teams claimed him off waivers and the White Sox couldn’t find a taker via trade, so they released Kosuke Fukudome today after designating him for assignment last week.
Fukudome played sparingly and poorly after signing a one-year, $1 million deal as a free agent and was on the disabled list with a back injury when the White Sox decided to cut him loose.
He failed to live up to expectations after leaving Japan to sign a four-year, $48 million contract with the Cubs in December of 2007, but Fukudome has a .359 career on-base percentage and can be plenty useful if platooned versus right-handed pitching.
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.