Report: Dodgers, Cubs interested in Jon Niese

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that both the Dodgers and Cubs have interest in Mets left-hander Jon Niese. It’s been no secret that the Mets would like to move Niese and/or Dillon Gee in the right circumstances as that would relieve the logjam in the starting rotation.

Niese, 28, has the prorated portion of his $7 million salary for the 2015 season remaining, plus $9 million in 2016 and a $500,000 buyout for either the ’17 or ’18 season. He has a 4.12 ERA this year along with a 58/27 K/BB ratio in 83 innings.

Though Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel have both been excellent in the Cubs’ starting rotation this year, Jon Lester — the club’s big off-season signing — has struggled, as have Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood. The Dodgers have had dominating starting pitching at the top end with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, but lack depth and Niese would certainly help in that regard.

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.