Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez made a stunning, last-ditch play before exiting Saturday’s start with an injury. Down 1-0 in the second inning, Velasquez lobbed a curveball to the Nationals’ Adam Eaton, who promptly sent it back up the middle for a 96-m.p.h. line drive. The ball ricocheted off of Velasquez’s arm and rolled away from the mound. With his right arm out of commission, the pitcher chased down the ball and scooped it with his left hand, then fired it straight to first base for the third and final out of the inning.
Immediately after making the throw, Velasquez collapsed in pain and had to be escorted off the field. According to an additional report from the team, he avoided an elbow injury but was diagnosed with a bruised right forearm. There’s no word yet on how long he’s expected to be sidelined.
Prior to his impressive and painful exit, the righty completed two innings of one-run, three-strikeout ball against the Nats. The Phillies’ bullpen picked up the slack in his absence and currently holds a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
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.