Jed Lowrie, out since April with a torn thumb ligament, finally cleared to play rehab games

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MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that Astros infielder Jed Lowrie has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday evening with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.

Lowrie has been on the disabled list since suffering a ligament tear in his right (throwing-side) thumb back in late April. That thumb injury required surgery and Lowrie was given a three-month recovery timetable, which is going to prove to be pretty accurate.

Carlos Correa has taken over at shortstop for the Astros and obviously won’t be moving anywhere, so Lowrie’s playing time down the stretch will come primarily at the hot corner and as an off-the-bench bat.

Lowrie is a switch-hitter and Houston’s starting third baseman, Luis Valbuena, hits left-handed.

Lowrie was slashing .300/.432/.567 with four home runs and 10 RBI through his first 18 games this year for the Astros. He’ll be a nice weapon in whatever role over the final two months of regular-season play.

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.