MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that the Nationals have acquired infielder Brandon Laird, brother of Braves catcher Gerald, from the Royals. It is not yet known what or who the Nationals sent to the Royals in return.
Laird, 26, was taken in the 27th round of the 2007 draft by the Yankees. In September 2012, the Astros acquired him off of waivers. Last November, Laird signed with the Royals as a free agent. He has a career .626 OPS in 138 plate appearances at the Major League level, splitting his time nearly equally between first and third base.
Laird isn’t anything special in the batting average or on-base departments, but he does have a bit of pop in his bat. In 2010 with the Yankees, he slugged 22 home runs with Double-A Trenton at the age of 22 and he has hit 16, 15, and 16 homers in the three seasons since at the Triple-A level.
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.