Andre Ethier wants to start for the Dodgers or be traded

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Andre Ethier accepted a reduced role with the Dodgers this year without making much of a fuss, but the 32-year-old former All-Star told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to start again in 2015 even if that requires being traded to another team:

Whether to play here every day or play somewhere else. … I’d rather play every day and help this team win–or whatever team it is–to the best of my ability. I feel I can, if given a role. As I stand here today, I’m preparing every day to be a starting outfielder for the Dodgers, until I’m told otherwise. I’m not changing my mind about that. It’s probably going to be a little less wanting to take the same role as I did last year.

Fair enough. On almost any other team Ethier would be a starter, because while his 2014 performance was not good–hitting just .249 with four homers and a .691 OPS in 130 games–his track record is good enough to give him the benefit of the doubt as a productive player in 2015.

However, even if the Dodgers follow through on the rumors about them trading Matt Kemp there still might not be room in their outfield for Ethier with Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford in the corners and top prospect Joc Pederson in center field. Ethier isn’t good enough defensively to reliably play center field and his offense is declining.

Ethier is owed $18 million in 2015, $18 million in 2016, $17.5 million in 2017, and $17.5 million or a $2.5 million buyout for 2018. In other words, if the Dodgers are going to trade him it’ll involve eating a bunch of that money.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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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.