Red Sox fire pitching coach Juan Nieves

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Boston has found the fall guy–or at least the first fall guy–for a pitching staff that ranks dead last among AL teams in runs allowed, firing pitching coach Juan Nieves.

Nieves has held the job since 2013 and Boston won the World Series in his first season, but since the beginning of last year the Red Sox rank 12th among AL teams in runs allowed.

There were plenty of question marks attached to Boston’s rotation coming into the season because of the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 starter, but no one could have expected Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, and Wade Miley all to have ERAs above (and several way above) 5.00.

No replacement has been named yet.

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.