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Vince Velasquez exits Thursday’s start after one inning

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Vince Velasquez recorded outs on the first two Mets batters he faced in the first inning of Thursday evening’s start, but went on to have a 32-pitch frame. Yoenis Cespedes doubled, Michael Conforto walked, and Wilmer Flores bashed a three-run home run. After Jose Reyes doubled, Velasquez got out of the inning when Travis d'Arnaud lined out. Mark Leiter took the mound to start the second inning.

Velasquez has averaged about 94 MPH on his fastball this season, but he topped out at 92 MPH tonight. The right-hander missed a month and a half earlier this season with a right elbow flexor strain.

After Thursday’s performance, Velasquez is carrying a 5.13 ERA with a 68/34 K/BB ratio over 72 innings. He was the biggest name in the Phillies’ haul coming from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade.

The Phillies should have more on Velasquez’s status later tonight.

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.