Here’s how much starting pitching depth the Nationals have: Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that they’re likely to use Tanner Roark out of the bullpen in the playoffs and there’s really no strong reason to argue against it.
Roark was fantastic this season, posting a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts with a 138/39 K/BB ratio in 199 innings. And he was even better as a rookie last season, giving him a combined 2.57 ERA in 252 innings as a big leaguer.
For a lot of teams that’s a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the playoffs, but the Nationals have Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez.
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.