Fantasy Baseball: Yasmani Grandal signing suggests big things for other White Sox
The Yasmani Grandal is notable less for him than for what he means for White Sox pitchers and the timeline of some of their top prospects.
The impact on his own value as a top-five Fantasy catcher is minimal. He goes from one great hitter's park to another. The venue change was more significant last year, when he went from Dodger Stadium to Miller Park, and it's not like he reached another level of production then.
The signing is, however, the clearest indication yet that the White Sox intend to contend, that the rebuild is over and winning is now the top priority.
"This was all planned," executive vice president Ken Williams told Jeff Passan of ESPN. "Going back five years ago when we started this and started thinking about this. We get ourselves in position with our young core and we could augment it with guys like this."
So why does it matter to those of us living out our silly little GM fantasies? Because Luis Robert is already kicking down the door to the majors. Based on the numbers he put up between Double- and Triple-A last year, we should have seen him in September. That the White Sox held off suggests they were playing the service time manipulation game, to which there's no natural end if there's no incentive to compete.
But now they've just given themselves one, which means that as early as opening day, you could see a player with these kinds of skills at a park near you:
True, late April -- or the kind of timeline we saw for Vladimir Guerrero last year -- is more likely, but the point is that there's all the more reason to believe today that Robert will spend the majority of the 2020 season in a major-league uniform. At least in Rotisserie leagues, where his stolen base potential is of greater note than his suspect plate discipline, he was already around 125 in my yet-to-be-released top 300. He's only going to move up from there.
And Roberts isn't the only prospect poised to benefit from the White Sox's pivot. Nick Madrigal, a former first-rounder with insane bat skills (16 strikeouts in 532 plate appearances this past year), is poised to take over at second base sooner than later. He may not be enough of a power hitter to emerge as a true standout in mixed leagues, but he'll run enough to matter. Also, Andrew Vaughn, the third overall pick just this past year, has a realistic shot of making a midseason debut if he brings a wrecking ball to Double-A. He has the look of a prototypical No. 3 hitter with big OPS upside.
Then, of course, there's the matter of what Grandal could do for a rebuilt pitching staff that is only beginning to blossom. As pitch-framing goes, he's on the opposite end of the spectrum from last year's No. 1 catcher, James McCann. The only catcher better than Grandal last year, according to FanGraphs, was defensive stalwart Austin Hedges, while McCann was fifth-worst. And that's among all 113 players who caught even a single inning last year.
Lucas Giolito broke out in spite of it, but Michael Kopech is set to return from the Tommy John surgery that interrupted his four-start debut two years ago and Dylan Cease is also just getting established. Both earn high marks for stuff but have had their struggles finding the strike zone, so a catcher like Grandal could be the key to unlocking their full potential. There's also Dane Dunning who could make his debut at some point in 2020, and even Reynaldo Lopez still has a chance of emerging as a quality major-league starter. They're all getting more help now than they've ever had before.
It's possible that the continued presence of McCann, an All-Star last year, cuts into Grandal's production somewhat. The biggest boon Grandal saw with his move to the Brewers last season was no longer having to share the role, which led to a career high in plate appearances. But with the White Sox being an AL club, the DH spot should be available for whichever isn't starting behind the plate that day (more often McCann) -- and that's assuming the White Sox don't see fit to move McCann at some point this offseason. He and former first-round pick Zack Collins, who made his debut in 2019, are now trade chips as the White Sox continue to position themselves to contend.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Fantasy Baseball Today Podcast
Here are the latest MLB rumors on the hot stove
Lyles was one of our top 50 free agents thanks to his back-of-the-rotation potential
Let's take a look at what is buzzing around the baseball rumor mill on Friday
Tell us how you really feel, Blake
Zack Wheeler is new to the fold, but the Phillies may not be done
Cole is on the minds of Yankees fans everywhere