The White Sox have made a big free-agent splash.
The team announced Thursday it signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year deal worth $73 million, the richest contract in team history, surpassing the $68 million Jose Abreu received over the course of six years when he arrived from Cuba ahead of the 2014 season.
After turning down a multi-year contract a year ago, he bet on himself in 2019, taking a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. It worked. Grandal reached base at a .380 clip and posted an .848 OPS, his highest marks in those categories since his 60-game rookie season in 2012. He hit a career-high 28 home runs, had a career-high 77 RBIs and walked a career-high 109 times. In addition to all that offensive production, the 31-year-old Grandal has a solid reputation as a pitch-framer.
"Yasmani ranks among the very elite catchers in Major League Baseball today, and we are extremely happy to add a durable and talented player of his caliber to our lineup," general manager Rick Hahn said in the team's announcement. "His selectivity at the plate is a real plus offensively, and as a switch hitter, his combination of power and on-base percentage stand out. Yasmani's defensive abilities, pitch framing and other advanced catching metrics also separate him from others in the game.
"In addition to what he brings to the field, Yasmani is also a great benefit in the clubhouse. We foresee him playing an integral role on both the further development of our young pitchers and the continued improvement of our offense as we reach our championship goals."
Grandal gives the White Sox a long-term answer at catcher, a position that wasn't on the team's offseason to-do list. The White Sox converted on an opportunity to add stability there with a player of Grandal's caliber.
The White Sox already had an All Star at catcher in James McCann, but after a tremendous first half, McCann slashed just .226/.281/.413 in 55 games after the All-Star break. Under team control for one more season, McCann now provides the White Sox with a solid backup backstop, bringing his much celebrated work ethic and work with the pitching staff behind Grandal on the depth chart. As for where Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes fit into the mix, we'll have to wait and see.
With the Grandal signing, Hahn starts what's expected to be a busy White Sox offseason with a bang. The contract is the biggest in franchise history and shows the team has an intention to spend big as they transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.
There are still numerous needs to address - the stated goals of adding a right fielder, designated hitter and two starting pitchers - but this signing is the kind of upgrade and the kind of splash White Sox fans have been clamoring for.