Free agent catcher Russell Martin has already met with the Cubs, who “rolled out the red carpet” for him, but he is expected to meet with at least three more teams which include the Pirates, Dodgers, and Blue Jays according to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago.
Martin, who will turn 32 years old in February, hit .290/.402/.430 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI this past season. He received high marks for his defense and handling of the Pirates’ pitching staff as well.
Though the Pirates certainly want to bring him back, GM Neal Huntington seems at peace with the idea that the club may be priced out. In September, he said, “We are going to go way beyond our comfort level and hope it’s enough. If it’s not then we’ve got to work hard to get out and try to back fill as best as we can.”
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.