The Orioles have made an offer to free agent starter A.J. Burnett, but nothing is imminent, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Burnett declined his $12.75 million player option with the Phillies last week.
Before Burnett signed with the Phillies this past February, the Orioles were one of a few teams interested in the right-hander’s services, so it’s no surprise to see their renewed interest. The O’s had the fifth-best starting rotation ERA in the American League in 2014, but they don’t have an obvious rotation leader.
Burnett, who turns 38 on January 3, had a miserable season in Philadelphia. He suffered an inguinal hernia in mid-April and finished the season with a 4.59 ERA in 213 2/3 innings, leading the league in earned runs allowed, walks, and losses.
According to MLB.com’s Tom Singer, the Pirates are still interested in Burnett as well.
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.