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Drew Smyly could miss up to eight weeks with elbow strain

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Mariners’ left-hander Drew Smyly will not start the season with the team after sustaining a flexor strain in his left elbow, reports MLB.com’s Greg Johns. The lefty reportedly injured his elbow in camp on Tuesday during a bullpen workout. He was expected to take the fourth spot in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton, but club GM Jerry Dipoto says that a 6-8 week setback looks likely at this point.

Smyly, 27, completed a three-year track with the Rays in 2016. He pitched through 175 1/3 innings, his first full season after rehabbing a torn labrum in 2015, and came out the other side with a 4.88 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9. The Mariners acquired Smyly in January for outfielder Mallex Smith and two minor leaguers, and were expected to utilize the lefty as a core member of their rotation in 2017.

Now, it’s up to fellow left-hander Ariel Miranda to fill the No. 4 spot as the team prepares to open the season on Monday. According to Dipoto, Miranda was assigned to Triple-A Tacoma in order to remain stretched out as a potential sixth starter (via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune). In other words, the team was anticipating some health issues with their rotation, though maybe not quite this early in the year. Smyly is expected to seek additional opinions on his elbow in the coming week.

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.