Ben Francisco was drafted by the Indians in 2002, played in their system and on the big club through 2009 and then was cast out into the cold, cold non-Ohio world. After tours through Philly, Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay, with those last three teams all employing him during the 2012 season. He has returned home, however, as the Indians have signed the outfielder to a minor league deal. Well, to his professional home. Dude is form California.
He’s 31 now, and has a career line of .257/.326/.455 with 49 homers in 1,721 career plate appearances. Given how well the organization knows him and given how thin the Indians’ outfield is, he stands a pretty good chance of finding a big league job this year.
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.