Jose Altuve back in Astros’ lineup after missing four games with hamstring injury

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According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is back in Monday’s lineup against the Angels after missing four games with a right hamstring injury.

Altuve initially tweaked his hamstring on June 12. He missed three games before returning last Tuesday, but had a setback one day later and hasn’t played since. The Astros were optimistic after watching him go through drills on Sunday and apparently he’s shown enough progress to return. They’ll have to hope that no more setbacks are in his future.

After a monster 2014, Altuve is batting .287/.328/.390 with five home runs, 28 RBI, and 17 steals over 63 games this season.

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.