When news surfaced that Yovani Gallardo was being traded to the Rangers, many speculated that this move would set the stage for the Brewers to make a run at free agent right-hander James Shields. However, it sounds like they have other plans.
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said this afternoon that he doesn’t see the club pursuing Shields. For what it’s worth, he also said that he hasn’t heard that Jordan Zimmermann is available via trade from the Nationals.
Assuming Melvin stays true to his word and stands pat with his rotation, the Gallardo trade paves the way for Jimmy Nelson to get an extended opportunity. It’s not as exciting as Shields or Zimmermann, but it’s not such a terrible thing. The 25-year-old right-hander posted a 4.93 ERA with a 57/19 K/BB ratio in 69 1/3 innings across 12 starts and two relief appearances last season. Shedding some of Gallardo’s salary (they’ll ultimately save $10 million) could also enable the Brewers to bring back Francisco Rodriguez or sign Rafael Soriano.
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.