Yoenis Cespedes gets no help in Oakland’s Game 1 loss

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A triple and a two-run homer from Yoenis Cespedes simply wasn’t enough for the A’s Friday as the Tigers took Game 1 of the ALDS 3-2.

Cespedes was responsible for two-thirds of Oakland’s hits in the game. The other was a little infield single from Brandon Moss in the seventh. Immediately after that was when Cespedes hit his bomb off Max Scherzer. It was the only time Cespedes got to hit with a man on.

Besides Moss and Cespedes, the only Athletic to reach base safely was Coco Crisp. He did so three times via the walk. The A’s struck out 16 times, with Cespedes contributing two of those himself.

The no-name bottom of the order of Stephen Vogt, Daric Barton and Eric Sogard couldn’t get anything going, finishing 0-for-8. Barton, in there partly for his defense, had a misplay that contributed to the three-run first off Bartolo Colon and ended up striking out in all three of his at-bats. He may well take a seat on Saturday, with Moss moving back to first and possibly Seth Smith getting the nod at DH.

Scherzer allowed a total of 16 extra-base hits to right-handed hitters this year, making Cespedes’ showing especially impressive. It was the first time this year that Scherzer had given up a homer and another extra-base hit to a batter in the same game. The only two to have to extra-base hits off him were Nick Swisher (double, triple on May 10) and Asdrubal Cabrera (two doubles on Aug. 8).

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.