Yankees considering using Alfonso Soriano as back-up first baseman

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Over his 15-year career, Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano has logged time at five of the eight non-pitcher positions on the diamond. The only three positions he hasn’t played are catcher, first base and right field. He might make it six this season. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand reports that manager Joe Girardi has kicked around the idea of using Soriano at first base to spell Mark Teixeira from time to time.

“We have kicked it around a little bit,” manager Joe Girardi said.

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Soriano, who will play in the outfield Friday night, will primarily be a designated hitter. However, he could spell Mark Teixeira from time to time during the season. The Yankees do not plan to carry strictly a backup first baseman.

Kelly Johnson, the team’s starting third baseman, is listed as the back-up first and second baseman. Given that Johnson is neither two nor three people, the Yankees would like to diversify their portfolio, so to speak, which explains brainstorming Soriano at first.

At the age of 37 last season, Soriano blasted 34 home runs and posted a .791 OPS with the Cubs and the Yankees. He moved back to the Bronx in a trade at the end of July. Soriano’s contract expires at the end of the season and he’s been mulling retirement.

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.