The weekend is wrapping up with three themes we’ve discussed over the first few weeks of the offseason.
If you want to leave open the possibility that Yasmani Grandal won’t be Plan A for the White Sox in 2023, Bruce Levine said the White Sox have inquired about Oakland All-Star Sean Murphy.
In news of catchers who are more likely to be playing for the White Sox in 2023, James Fegan caught up with Grandal during a charity appearance on Friday.
Grandal was previously seen with new manager Pedro Grifol at a Blackhawks game during Grifol’s grand opening, and he’s spending more and more time in Chicago, which is never a bad idea for somebody interested in reversing nature. There’s a lot of detail of all the work Grandal is undertaking to stiff-arm Father Time, which can be seen as a testament to Grandal’s work ethic, and/or throwing everything against the wall in hopes for a dead-cat bounce. They’re not mutually exclusive, but the weighting is in the eye of the self-loather.
The whole thing is worth reading, but this paragraph caught my eye for a couple reasons:
In the past, Grandal has indicated his interest in staying in Chicago beyond the end of his four-year contract, which runs through the end of next season. After a career-worst 2022 season, clearly marred by back and hamstring injuries and the after-effects of right knee surgery in October 2021, the immediate focus is on getting back to a performance level where something like that would be considered. For that, Grandal’s placement in Chicago has allowed him to train with Chicago Blackhawks strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman. Throughout the season, Grandal repeatedly said his .202/.301/.269 batting line with just five home runs in 99 games was due to his struggles to reestablish the strength and explosiveness in his legs in order to regain power. Healthy enough to train this winter rather than rehabilitating after surgery, Grandal said he’s already had about 30 grueling sessions with Goodman in his effort to get to spring training at full strength.
One of the things that makes it difficult to trust any Grandal self-assessment is the idea that he said a lack of regular playing time behind the plate was what held him back. I’m sure it was pride talking, and it’s better for a competitor to welcome a challenge than shy away from it, but it makes me wait for a proof of concept before mustering any particular enthusiasm for his cause. Because the White Sox have shown no inclination to ever spend past a problem, this really doesn’t matter.
The part about Grandal training with Goodman reminds me of my dad asking during the Stanley Cup playoffs why all of these players could stop and start while dodging or absorbing contact over 60 minutes (or longer) while so many White Sox crumpled into a heap running in a straight line for three seconds. Maybe they’re on the same wavelength here.
Strength and conditioning
While Grandal is working with the Blackhawks’ strength and conditioning coach, the White Sox appear to be finalizing some changes to their own department, at least if a tweet from a fellow purporting himself to have held a similar job with the Diamondbacks is any indication (h/t Asinwreck):
If you don’t trust Elon Musk’s Twitter for such updates from unknown sources, there’s a matching post on Instagram, and both profiles are linked to this podcast appearance from 2019 where he talks about his first year in the Arizona organization.
The White Sox haven’t confirmed any hires, although Pedro Grifol wanted to talk about some new brains coming aboard during his press conference before Rick Hahn stopped him.
The reliever market
The already shallow pool of free agent relievers took yet another hit, as yet another one of the more promising arms returned to his team. Rafael Montero re-signed with the Houston Astros for three years and $34.5 million, joining Edwin Diaz (five years, $102 million) and Robert Suárez (five years, $46 million) as high-leverage arms who removed their services from the open market.
Again, this continues to be great news for the White Sox if they want to shop Liam Hendriks or Kendall Graveman.