Astros demote Marwin Gonzalez, designate Wade LeBlanc for assignment

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The Astros announced this evening that left-hander Wade LeBlanc has been designated for assignment while infielder Marwin Gonzalez has been optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The team will announce corresponding roster moves tomorrow.

LeBlanc was claimed off waivers from the Marlins earlier this month and allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings with the club. The 29-year-old has a 5.50 ERA and 32/18 K/BB ratio in 52 1/3 innings over seven starts and nine relief appearances overall this season.

Gonzalez has struggled after getting off to a hot start this season, hitting just .230 with a .589 OPS and a 33/5 K/BB ratio in 54 games. Prospect shortstop Jonathan Villar is a possibility to replace him on the active roster, though Jake Elmore could be called up first as a stopgap.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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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.