A.J. Pollock
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Report: A.J. Pollock seeking five-year, $80-million deal in free agency

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Free agent center fielder A.J. Pollock is up for grabs this offseason and Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the outfielder is asking for a deal in the five-year, $80-million range. While Nightengale adds that Pollock has attracted “plenty of interest” so far, no teams have been directly tied to him aside from the Astros.

Pollock, 30, wrapped his seventh season with the Diamondbacks in 2018 and voluntarily entered free agency after rejecting the club’s $17.9 million qualifying offer in November. Despite missing a significant chunk of the season with a fractured left thumb, the veteran outfielder finished the year with a respectable .257/.316/.484 batting line, career-best 21 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He has yet to match the lofty career numbers he posted during his All-Star run in 2015, but still profiles as a solid defender in center field and an intriguing, if inconsistent contributor at the plate.

Even given his track record over the last few years, though, a five-year, $80-million deal (à la Lorenzo Cain‘s five-year, $80-million contract with the Brewers last winter) may be too steep a price to pay for an aging outfielder who has seen as many injuries — and as sharp of a decline — as Pollock has. Tack on the draft pick compensation due the Diamondbacks, and the price becomes not only steep, but exorbitant. By comparison, Cain inked his multi-year deal with Milwaukee following a much stronger campaign with the 2017 Royals, one that saw a .300 average, 25+ steals, and 4.3 fWAR from the 31-year-old center fielder.

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.