Nelson Cruz is out of the Mariners’ lineup with back spasms

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American League home run leader Nelson Cruz is out of the Mariners’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Indians after leaving Tuesday’s game with back spasms.

In in his absence Seattle is using Mark Trumbo in right field and Seth Smith at designated hitter versus right-hander Trevor Bauer.

Cruz led the league with 40 homers last season while playing on a one-year deal with the Orioles and then cashed in as a free agent, signing a four-year, $57 million contract with the Mariners. So far so good, as the 34-year-old right fielder/designated hitter is batting .326 with 18 homers and a .988 OPS in 58 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.