The Yankees were poised to extend their lead over the White Sox to 5-0 when Greg Bird hit a deep fly ball to center field with runners on first and second with one out in the fourth inning Monday night in Chicago. Center fielder Adam Engel had other ideas. He raced to the warning track, then timed his jump to snag the ball from beyond the yellow border at the top of the fence to steal a three-run homer from Bird.
Alas, the effort may be in vain as the White Sox trail the Yankees 4-0 after five innings. The White Sox offense hasn’t been able to put anything together against Yankees starter Lance Lynn. Lynn has tossed five scoreless frames, yielding just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts on 72 pitches.
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.