Denard Span cleared for post-surgery rehab assignment

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Jayson Werth came off the disabled list and returned to the Nationals’ lineup Monday and he may soon be joined in the outfield by Denard Span.

Span, who had offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia and then had another surgery in mid-March for a core muscle injury, has now been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment tonight at Double-A.

Span was initially given a 4-6 week recovery timetable on March 9, so barring any setbacks he’s right on schedule. Michael Taylor has been filling in as the Nationals’ center fielder and leadoff man, but the 24-year-old rookie is just 6-for-29 (.207) with 11 strikeouts through seven games.

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.