Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported yesterday that Matt Williams was the front-runner to replace Davey Johnson as Nationals manager and now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Washington plans to hire the Diamondbacks third base coach.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is hoping that Randy Knorr will agree to serve as Williams’ bench coach after filling the same role on Johnson’s staff and interviewing for the manager gig himself. Knorr was the candidate several Nationals players voiced support for publicly, so it could be a tricky situation potentially.
With zero big-league managing experience and a hard-nosed approach–he was on Kirk Gibson’s grit-filled staff in Arizona, after all–the 47-year-old Williams certainly appears to be a lot different than Johnson. He also played 17 seasons in the majors, appearing in six All-Star games and finishing runner-up for the MVP in 1994 before getting into coaching.
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.