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Red Sox can blame early exit on stars’ lackluster performance

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The Red Sox exited the playoffs much sooner than anticipated, suffering a sweep at the hands of the Indians in the ALDS. They lost 5-4 in Game 1 and were shut out 6-0 in Game 2 before suffering a 4-3 loss on Monday evening in Game 3.

There is no one individual player to blame for the early exit. Rather, most of their star players performed much worse than anticipated, particularly compared to their 2016 regular season performances.

Let’s begin with the starting pitching:

And a select look at the offense:

Credit is due to the Indians for figuring out how to dismantle the starting pitching and for keeping the Red Sox offense at bay. But the Sox were certainly expecting much more out of the club — certainly enough to keep them from being swept out of the ALDS.

If there is a silver lining, at least the bullpen pitched well. Matt Barnes gave up an unearned run in Game 2 and Drew Pomeranz gave up two runs on a Coco Crisp homer in Game 3. Over 16 1/3 innings of relief, two earned runs (1.10 ERA) will do.

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.