Nationals center fielder Denard Span, who underwent offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia, went under the knife again Monday to fix a “right core muscle injury.”
Span made his spring training debut Thursday, going 0-for-2 against the Mets, and there was no indication something was wrong then. Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com notes that several prominent players, including Miguel Cabrera, had core muscle surgery in recent years and the typical recovery timetable was at least 4-6 weeks.
That means Span is definitely out for Opening Day and may miss the entire first month of the season. In the meantime 24-year-old prospect Michael Taylor could get a chance to step in for Span as the Nationals’ starting center fielder after hitting .304 with 23 homers and a .915 OPS in 110 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Washington is already without left fielder Jayson Werth and backup outfielder Nate McLouth due to injuries, so the Nationals are running thin at a spot where they previously appeared to have plenty of depth.
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.