Rarely does a qualifying offer catch everyone by surprise, but the Rockies just did that by making one to Michael Cuddyer.
Cuddyer hit .307 with an .886 OPS in three seasons for the Rockies, but he also missed 206 of a possible 486 games, including playing just 49 games this season. He’s a 36-year-old corner outfielder/first baseman who rates poorly defensively and … well, $15.3 million is a lot.
It seems pretty obvious that Cuddyer should accept the one-year, $15.3 million contract and return to the Rockies for another season, because if he declines the number of teams interested in giving him a big contract and losing a draft pick to do so figures to be very, very limited.
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.