MILWAUKEE -- A patient approach to the offseason paid off for the Brewers when they landed free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, who officially signed a one-year contract on Monday.The Brewers reeled in the best catcher on this winter's free-agent market for $16 million in 2019 with a mutual option for $16
MILWAUKEE -- A patient approach to the offseason paid off for the Brewers when they landed free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, who officially signed a one-year contract on Monday.
The Brewers reeled in the best catcher on this winter's free-agent market for $16 million in 2019 with a mutual option for $16 million in 2020 or a $2.25 million buyout, according to multiple reports. Grandal, who rates as one of baseball's best pitch framers and offensive catchers, represents a significant upgrade over Milwaukee's defense-first catching incumbents Manny Pina and Erik Kratz.
The guaranteed $18.25 million is just north of the $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers that Grandal declined after the World Series to enter free agency, and well shy in terms of total value of a reported multiyear offer from the Mets.
Grandal, 30, is a switch-hitter who has done most of his damage over parts of seven Major League seasons as a left-handed hitter -- something Brewers officials have tried to obtain in recent years, from Travis Shaw to Eric Thames to 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich. Last season with the Dodgers, Grandal hit 20 of his 24 home runs and logged an .844 OPS batting left-handed, on the way to a 125 weighted runs created plus that ranked third among MLB catchers.
For comparison, Brewers catchers compiled a 75 wRC+ last season and ranked 23rd of 30 teams. Club officials met with another free agent, Wilson Ramos, during the Winter Meetings, but he signed a two-year, $19 million contract with the Mets.
Grandal will join the team that the Dodgers defeated in an epic NL Championship Series in October. It was a memorable seven-game thriller -- for perhaps most other than Grandal, who had three passed balls, went 2-for-11 with six strikeouts and was benched in favor of the offensively inferior Austin Barnes.
Grandal is widely recognized as one of the most productive all-around catchers, but his struggles in the postseason led some scouts to suggest it could hurt his free-agent stock. Grandal is a .107/.264/.200 hitter in 32 playoff games since 2015, all with the Dodgers.
In Milwaukee, he'll join a corps that had marginal success behind the plate last year between Pina and Kratz. Brewers backstops were worth 1.1 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, which ranked tied for the 10th-fewest in the Majors. Grandal was worth 3.6 fWAR in '18, behind only Marlins star catcher J.T. Realmuto (4.8), who has been one of the most coveted trade targets this offseason. Grandal slashed .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers, which trailed only Salvador Perez's 27 for the MLB high among backstops.
The 38-year-old Kratz signed a one-year deal with the Brewers in November to avoid arbitration. Pina, 31, is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason. Arbitration contracts are not guaranteed, meaning the Brewers could go into Spring Training with all three catchers in camp plus prospect Jacob Nottingham, and sort out a plan closer to Opening Day.
Because the Dodgers did not receive revenue sharing last season and did not exceed the luxury-tax salary threshold the previous season, they will receive a compensatory pick that will come after Competitive Balance Round B. Because the Brewers did receive revenue sharing, they will give up their third-round selection in next year's Draft for signing Grandal, who will not be subject to Draft-pick compensation should he become a free agent again after the 2019 season.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.