Ryan Roberts was told that the move to designate him for assignment this afternoon was a prelude to a trade, and the deal got done tonight, as the versatile veteran is on his way to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league infielder Tyler Bortnick.
The Rays were looking for inexpensive infield help and got it here, as Roberts is due a bit less than $900,000 over the rest of the year. He’ll likely see plenty of action at third base until Evan Longoria returns before sliding into more of a utility role.
It will be interesting to see who gets dropped to make room for Roberts. Brooks Conrad is still the likely choice, but he hit a big two-run homer to help the Rays beat the Orioles 3-1 on Tuesday. Hideki Matsui has yet to contribute much of anything as an outfielder/designated hitter, so the Rays could drop him instead.
Bortnick, 25, was hitting .253/.352/.385 with four homers and 23 steals in 348 at-bats for Double-A Montgomery this season. He’s a long shot to make it as a utilityman in the majors. Mostly, the Diamondbacks were just happy to save some money here.
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.