Earlier this week the Pirates expressed concern over Pedro Alvarez’s foot injury because it had “stopped improving” and today they announced that the third baseman has a stress reaction in the fourth metatarsal of his left foot.
That typically has a 4-6 week recovery timetable, so Alvarez’s season is over and he’s unlikely to be ready for the playoffs even if the Pirates make a deep October run. Of course, healthy or not his role was in question after throwing problems got him benched at third base.
Alvarez is under team control for 2015 and 2016 via arbitration, but given his $4.25 million salary this season combined with the throwing problems and underwhelming offensive production this could signal the end of his Pirates career. They don’t trust him at third base and can probably do better–or at least cheaper–at first base.
Selected by Pittsburgh with the second overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Vanderbilt, he debuted in 2010 as a 23-year-old and has hit .235 with 104 homers and a .742 OPS in 592 games while striking out 678 times compared to 211 walks.
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.