Jose Lopez is close to signing with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Lopez was an All-Star at age 22 and is still just 29 years old, but he hasn’t been a productive regular since 2009 and hit just .236 with a .615 OPS in 313 games as a part-time player during the past three seasons.
For his nine-season career Lopez is a .262 hitter with a .292 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage, which has to be among the worst production ever for someone who made an All-Star team so young. Of course, his “All-Star” season wasn’t particularly impressive, as he hit .282 with 10 homers and a .723 OPS, so it’s not as if Lopez was ever anything special.
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.