Former seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady has been pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League and last night, in what was apparently a planned move, he started the league’s All-Star game, participated in the Home Run Derby … and then announced his retirement.
His starting the All-Star game was purely a stunt, because in four regular season appearances McGrady posted a 6.75 ERA and walked 10 batters in 6.2 innings without recording a single strikeout.
Last night he tossed 1.1 innings and actually struck out the final batter he faced, which is a helluva coincidence I guess. He also hit zero homers in the Home Run Derby, so hopefully the fans in attendance really liked, I dunno, staring at McGrady in a baseball jersey or something.
Brett Dolan of CBS Houston has more details on McGrady’s farewell to baseball.
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.