The Tigers passed on Rafael Soriano last winter and decided to go in-house at closer, eventually settling on Joaquin Benoit, but they are prepared to look to free agency to fill the role this offseason.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that “mutual interest” has developed between the Tigers and Joe Nathan. After declining his $9.5 million option with the Rangers earlier this month, Nathan is said to have the Tigers “high on his wish list.”
Nathan turns 39 later this month, but he’s back to near-vintage form after his Tommy John surgery in 2010, posting a 2.09 ERA over the past two seasons while going 80-for-86 in save chances. He stands a good chance to receive the multi-year contract he’s looking for, with Detroit as an obvious fit.
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.