Yasmani Grandal heading to free agency: Will the White Sox go after him?


Rick Hahn spent his end-of-season press conference last month laying out the items on his front office’s offseason to-do list: starting pitching, right fielder, designated hitter, maybe a bullpen arm or two.

Catcher? Not mentioned. But that’s not stopping plenty of White Sox fans from putting one at the top of their wintertime wish lists.

Yasmani Grandal is heading to free agency, declining his option to stick with the Milwaukee Brewers after he signed a one-year deal to play there last offseason. You might remember him betting on himself and declining a multi-year offer in order to, he hopes, make some more money this time around.

That gamble worked, it seems. Obviously we won’t know for sure until he actually gets that lucrative deal, but he figures to do so after a great season in Beer Town. He slashed .246/.380/.468 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI, walking 109 times to rank fourth in baseball in that category. He’s also a left-handed hitter, something in short supply on the South Side.

Sounds like a guy that would fit well on any roster, the White Sox included, but whether or not they pursue Grandal figures to have more to do with how comfortable they feel with their current catching tandem of James McCann and Zack Collins.

McCann was an All Star in 2019, generally a sign that an upgrade isn’t necessary, but while he means an awful lot to the pitching staff, he doesn’t carry an extensive track record of offensive aptitude, which Grandal does. McCann spent his five years with the Detroit Tigers putting up a pretty paltry .240/.288/.366 slash line. But he turned things around in a big way, hitting .273/.328/.460 in his first season with the White Sox last season. But the excellent first half that yielded the All-Star appearance gave way to a not-so-nice second half in which he hit just .226/.281/.413, his batting average and on-base percentage dropping exactly 90 points from the first-half marks.

Then there’s Collins, who had a pair of big league stints last season, getting two hits in 31 plate appearances in the first and going 14-for-60 in the second. That super small sample size is not enough to come to a conclusion on what kind of major league hitter Collins will be, but of course the numbers don’t jump off the page. And the questions about his defensive ability behind the plate haven’t gone away, either.

So there’s an argument to be made that the White Sox adding an upgrade at catcher is not just a good idea but a necessary move. Grandal will be a popular man this winter after his strong season in Milwaukee, though, and the White Sox, even with their much discussed financial flexibility, have other, stated holes to fill that might take precedence. Certainly, too, the White Sox could be very comfortable with the McCann-Collins combo and not feel the need to even consider another catching addition this winter.

But there are plenty of fans out there that would love to see Grandal behind the plate at Guaranteed Rate Field on Opening Day. We'll see how it all plays out.

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