Jayson Werth, who started the season on the disabled list following January shoulder surgery and has hit .176 since returning, is out of the Nationals lineup for the second straight game with a “cranky” shoulder.
That’s according to manager Matt Williams, who has rookie Michael Taylor starting in Werth’s place against the Marlins. Washington has Thursday off, which means Werth will get three days off before rejoining the lineup Friday versus Atlanta.
Werth hit .292 with an .849 OPS last season, but in addition to hitting just .176 with zero homers in 19 games this season Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com writes that he “has looked less than comfortable at times in left field.” Taylor’s presence means there’s little incentive for the Nationals to rush Werth back, but turning away from him completely is unlikely given how good he was in 2014 and the fact that he’s still owed about $60 million through 2017.
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.