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Yoan Moncada poised to make his first career start

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On the heels of his major league debut, Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada will make his first start with the team on Saturday against the Athletics. The 21-year-old infielder went 0-for-2 during Friday’s 16-2 blowout win in Oakland, drawing a walk against J.B. Wendelken and scoring a run on a Travis Shaw RBI double in the eighth inning.

With Moncada’s switch-hitting capabilities, the Red Sox will have another left-handed bat to balance out the lineup. Like fellow switch-hitter Sandy Leon, Moncada profiles better from the left side of the plate and will get the bulk of his starts against right-handed pitchers. Manager John Farrell also intends to pencil in third baseman Aaron Hill as a defensive option in later innings, supposedly with infielder Travis Shaw as a backup option.

It’s an accelerated timetable for Moncada, who spent just 45 games in Double-A Portland before getting the call, but the Red Sox are in no position to wait. They’ve been red-hot in the last week, taking three of their last five games with a cumulative 33 runs scored and currently sit two games up in the wild card race.

For some teams, September baseball brings the fevered excitement of a playoff run, while those who find themselves out of the running can take solace in the long-awaited debuts of top prospects. Right now, it looks like the Red Sox have the best of both worlds.

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.