Jason Motte’s comeback from Tommy John surgery is nearly complete, as the one-time Cardinals closer is finished with his minor-league rehab assignment and scheduled to rejoin the active roster Tuesday.
Motte won’t have his old closer gig waiting for him when he returns because Trevor Rosenthal isn’t giving that back anytime soon, but if healthy he could make a huge impact in a setup role. He missed the entire 2013 season, but Motte led the league with 42 saves in 2012 and combined from 2010-2012 he threw 192 innings with a 2.43 ERA and 203 strikeouts.
Expecting him to pick up right where he left off would be wishful thinking, but Motte tossed 6.2 scoreless innings on his rehab assignment and reports of his velocity have been fairly positive.
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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.