MLB announces All-Star celebrity softball game participants

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Every year during the All-Star break there’s a “Legends and Celebrities Softball Game” and MLB just announced the participants for this year’s event at Target Field in Minnesota.

The list of “legends” is an impressive one: Rickey Henderson, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers, Mike Piazza, Jack Morris, Fred Lynn, Ozzie Smith, John Smoltz, and Jim Thome.

And then there’s a solid group of local star athletes from other Minnesota teams: Adrian Peterson, Kevin Love, Maya Moore, and Zach Parise.

But then here’s the complete list of “celebrities” signed up for the game: Andy Cohen, James Denton, Chris Distefano, Jennie Finch, Melanie Iglesias, Fat Joe, Charlie McDermott, Nelly, Dylan O’Brien, Rob Riggle, Sway, and Andrew Zimmern.

Woof. Not listed: Jon Hamm. What a travesty.

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.