Cincinnati skipped Mike Leake’s turn in the rotation yesterday in order to keep Johnny Cueto on regular rest and Mark Sheldon of MLB.com writes that Leake “realizes he is on the bubble” for the postseason roster.
Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, and Homer Bailey are all ahead of him on the rotation depth chart and playoff teams rarely if ever require a fifth starter, so Leake’s status may come down to whether the Reds have any interest in using him as a reliever.
His five career relief appearances have been brutally bad, with 17.36 ERA and 14 hits allowed in 4.2 innings, but Leake noted that he could also be useful as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter and told Sheldon: “I know I haven’t deserved a spot to be one of the four, but I feel I can still help.”
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.