Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper reached two career milestones with one swing on Wednesday night against the Braves. He just wishes it happened under better circumstances. In the sixth inning, Harper put the Phillies on the board with a solo home run off of Bryse Wilson, notching both his 1,000th career hit and 200th career home run.
The homer made it a 3-1 game and the Phillies would add another one in the inning. However, the Braves would tag Nick Pivetta and Juan Nicasio for six runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a commanding 9-2 lead.
Harper is hitting .248/.364/.473 with 16 home runs, 60 RBI, and 51 runs scored in 374 plate appearances on the season. He’s on pace for 705 PA, which also puts him on pace for 30 homers, 113 RBI, and 96 runs scored. His rate stats still aren’t where they should be, but his counting stats are there at least.
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.