Yasmani Grandal followed up four All-Star caliber seasons with the Dodgers with a terrific campaign for the Brewers in 2019, slashing .246/.380/.468 with a career-high 28 home runs, 77 RBIs and 109 walks.
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the catcher, who is a free agent for the second time in as many years.
Best fits for Grandal
Nov. 19: A case can be made that Grandal is the best all-around catcher in baseball, as well as the top position player not named Anthony Rendon in this year's crop of free agents.
MLB.com's Mike Petriello broke down the market for Grandal on Monday and landed on three perfect fits for the backstop: the Reds, White Sox and Rockies. But those aren't the only clubs that might be in the mix. Petriello lists 11 other teams that could pursue him. More >
Report: Mets looking at backup catcher options
Nov. 19: The Mets reportedly offered Grandal a four-year, $60 million contract last year, but it's appearing more and more unlikely that they will seriously pursue him again this winter.
The New York Post's Ken Davidoff reports that New York has reached out to free-agent catchers Robinson Chirinos and Drew Butera, presumably for backup roles on its 2020 squad. The Mets signed former All-Star backstop Wilson Ramos to a two-year, $19 million contract last December, and they appear to be comfortable with Ramos starting on Opening Day after he slashed .288/.351/.416 and knocked 14 homers in '19.
Twins unlikely to make another push for Grandal
Nov. 18: Grandal could have a long list of suitors this offseason, but the Twins are not expected to be one of them, writes Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription required). Minnesota offered Grandal a two-year deal last offseason, sources told Hayes, but the club's catching situation has since changed.
Although the team needs to replace free agent Jason Castro, Mitch Garver is poised to receive more playing time after a breakout 2019 season in which he recorded 31 homers with a 155 wRC+ in 359 plate appearances.
The Twins could have as much as $50 million available in the 2020 budget, as The Athletic's Aaron Gleeman noted last week, conceivably leaving room for a Grandal deal. But Minnesota is more likely to spend most of that on pitching while looking for an inexpensive option to back up Garver.
The Astros could use an upgrade behind the plate -- enter Grandal?
Nov. 16: You won't find many weakness on the Astros' roster. But one area that could stand an upgrade is catcher. Could Grandal be the answer there in Houston? MLB.com's Richard Justice thinks so -- in fact, he thinks Grandal would be the perfect fit with the American League champs.
"The Astros will attempt to trade for a veteran starting pitcher to replace Cole in their rotation, and that would allow them to upgrade the lone problem area of baseball’s deepest lineup through free agency," Justice writes. "Grandal’s 5.2 Wins Above Replacement (per FanGraphs) was second among MLB catchers in 2019, trailing only J.T. Realmuto (5.7). And Grandal is an elite pitch framer, which could help make up for the potential loss of [Gerrit] Cole via free agency." More >
Jays in on Grandal?
Nov. 13: The Blue Jays have met with Grandal, according to ESPN's Marly Rivera. It's an interesting development given that the Jays are still building from youth, though the youth is maturing quickly. Inserting Grandal into Toronto's lineup would add even more thump to an offense already featuring Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, among other rising stars. Danny Jansen got the bulk of the time behind the plate for the Jays last season, and hit just .207/.279/.360 in 107 games.
Who are the obvious fits for Grandal?
Nov. 13: ESPN's Buster Olney joins the chorus of voices identifying Grandal as the top free-agent catcher, and runs through the 10 most obvious fits (subscription required) for the backstop in this year's market. The Reds, already reported as a club that will take a serious run at Grandal, are at the top of Olney's list. Three American League West clubs follow in the Angels, Astros and Rangers, along with two fierce NL East rivals in the Braves and Mets. New York notably offered Grandal a four-year contract last offseason, but Olney said the Mets' timing "doesn't appear to be right" as the club seeks to bolster its bullpen, rotation and outfield.
Heyman: Crew wants to re-sign Yaz and Moose
Nov. 12: The Brewers got All-Star seasons from both Grandal and Mike Moustakas, so it's no surprise the team want to bring both the backstop and the third baseman back if possible, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who adds that Milwaukee also will be on the lookout to address its rotation.
While both players came up big for the Brewers as the club reached the postseason for a second straight season, Grandal would seem to be especially key, because Manny Piña is the only catcher with any real big league experience on the 40-man roster at the moment.
On the other hand, Travis Shaw has been a productive player at the hot corner in the recent past -- he hit more than 30 homers in each of '17 and '18 -- although he struggled so much in 2019 that he spent a large portion of the season at Triple-A.
As for where Grandal could wind up, the Brewers (18.1 percent) were edged by the Reds (28.9 percent) in a poll conducted by MLB Trade Rumors asking readers to predict where 10 of the top free agents would sign. In other words, the race for Grandal could be a showdown between two NL Central squads.
Reds expected to make 'serious run' at Grandal
Nov. 10: Catcher is a big area of need for the Reds, and "all signs point toward a serious run" at Grandal, according to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The Reds haven’t signed a Major League free agent for more than $3 million per season since 2013, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams has indicated that this offseason could be different.
“To go out and sign an open-market free agent to a big dollar multi-year contract is not something we’ve done, but it isn’t something we will shy away from,” Williams said in October. “You have to define how big is big. Given our market size, we want to try to avoid deals that are too big to digest, but we understand how to compete for talent on the free agent, which is part of the strategy this year.
“We certainly feel like the window is open. When the window is open, it’s time to make a different kind of trade and a different kind of free agent deal than the ones you made in the past.”
Grandal, who was selected by the Reds with the 12th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, played for Milwaukee in '19 after signing a one-year contract with a mutual option for '20. He ended up earning $18.25 million from the deal, factoring in the $2.25 million buyout attached to the mutual option, which he declined. Grandal was not eligible to receive a qualifying offer, so he doesn't have any Draft-pick compensation requirement attached to him, unlike last offseason, when he rejected a QO from the Dodgers.
The Reds have had trouble finding a productive everyday catcher in recent years, aside from one strong Devin Mesoraco season in 2014. In 2019, Cincinnati catchers Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali combined for 600 plate appearances and recorded a .721 OPS with 1.8 fWAR.
Grandal, meanwhile, produced a .246/.380/.468 batting line with a personal-best 28 homers, ranking second among all catchers in FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement (5.2).
Could Grandal gain a new competitor in the catcher market?
Nov. 8: Grandal's place atop the catcher market this offseason is firmly solidified for the moment, but a contender could be emerging from the North Side. ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that multiple teams in need of a catcher upgrade believe that the Cubs will make Willson Contreras available via trade in the coming months.
Contreras is coming off a career year at the plate (24 homers, .533 slugging), though it was limited somewhat by injuries. He is elite in terms of controlling the running game, with an arm that tied for third among catchers in fastest average pop time in 2019, per Statcast. But Grandal could still boast several advantages when compared side-by-side with Contreras: He is a switch-hitter whereas Contreras only bats from the right side, he's a more patient hitter and he's an elite pitch-framer -- while Contreras has routinely ranked toward the bottom of the league in that skill. Grandal will also only demand dollars from potential suitors, while a trade for Contreras will assuredly cost a team prospects, Major League players or possibly both.
Grandal far and away best catcher on the market
Nov. 6: MLB.com's Mark Feinsand listed the best free agents at each position this offseason, and Grandal was the representative of the "All-Free-Agent Team" behind the plate.
Grandal, who turns 31 on Nov. 8, hit .246/.380/.468 with a career-high 28 home runs in an All-Star campaign for the Brewers. He bet on himself last offseason when he turned down a four-year offer from the Mets and instead signed a one-year contract with Milwaukee. The bet paid off, and Grandal is likely to land a multi-year deal to his liking this winter.
Feinsand listed Robinson Chirinos, Jason Castro, Travis d'Arnaud and Martín Maldonado as the catchers in the next free-agent tier.
Are Brewers set to make push to retain Grandal & Moose?
Nov. 4: With their moves on Monday, the Brewers freed up some extra cash to possibly make a push to re-sign Grandal and Mike Moustakas.
Milwaukee traded Chase Anderson, who had an $8.5 million team option for 2020, to the Blue Jays and declined Eric Thames' $7.5 million team option ($1 million buyout), saving about $15 million in the process.
Grandal and Moustakas earned $23 million this past season ($16 million for Grandal and $7 million for Moustakas) and received an additional $5.25 million combined in buyouts when they both declined their mutual options. After Grandal posted 5.2 FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement and Moustakas 2.8 fWAR in 2019, they each could look for a longer contract this offseason.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman suggests the Brewers' moves may also signal the intention to pursue one of the top free-agent starters.
White Sox make sense as suitors for Grandal
Nov. 3: Grandal combines a powerful bat with elite pitch-framing skills, and the South Siders are a team that could really use that kind of catcher, writes MLB.com's Mike Petriello. In identifying the White Sox as a potential breakout team in 2020, Petriello points out that catcher James McCann reverted back to his normal batting line prior to '19 after earning his first All-Star selection, and Chicago also suffered from the Majors' second-worst catcher framing behind the plate.
Grandal, a switch-hitter, could represent a major upgrade over McCann in the White Sox lineup. The free agent finished with a 121 wRC+, 28 homers and an elite 17.2% walk rate in 2019, compared to a 109 wRC+, 18 dingers and 6.3% walk rate for McCann.
Could Braves pursue Grandal-Donaldson FA windfall?
Nov. 1: If re-signing Josh Donaldson is priority No. 1 for the Braves this offseason, addressing the catcher spot might be No. 2. Brian McCann retired, Francisco Cervelli is a free agent and Tyler Flowers has a $6 million club option with a $2 million buyout.
David O'Brien of The Athletic suggests Atlanta could go after the top catcher on the market, Grandal, even if the club picks up Flowers' option.
The Braves just selected a catcher, Shea Langeliers, with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, so they would likely prefer to do a shorter contract with Grandal, who made $16 million with the Brewers this past season, plus an additional $2.25 million from the buyout on his 2020 mutual option.
After playing on a one-year contract, Grandal will likely be seeking a lucrative long-term deal this offseason, but O'Brien wonders if a two-year pact with a high average-annual value could be enough to bring him to Atlanta.
Grandal accepted that one-year contract after reportedly turning down a four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets. The veteran backstop otherwise had a lukewarm market for a number of reasons, including the Draft-pick compensation requirement attached to him after he rejected a qualifying offer from the Dodgers. Grandal is ineligible for the qualifying offer this offseason, so he may have more suitors.
O'Brien thinks the Braves could land Donaldson and Grandal, provided they can keep the average annual value of Donaldson's deal below $30 million, and then trade for a frontline starting pitcher, presumably using some of their excellent prospect depth. The team could free up some money by declining Julio Teheran's $12 million club option ($1 million buyout), or by picking it up and trading him.
Grandal among most divisive free agents
Oct. 28: In this year's free-agent class, there are a handful of players whose value is particularly tough to define. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand took a look at six of them, including Grandal.
The backstop was one of the most valuable players in the National League during 2019, producing 5.2 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs. He accomplished that after joining the Brewers on a one-year, $16 million contract with a $16 million mutual option ($2.25 million buyout) for 2020, which he's expected to decline.
Grandal is ineligible for the qualifying offer after rejecting one from the Dodgers last year, and he could be viewed as a more attractive free agent this offseason with no Draft-pick compensation requirements attached to him.
However, he'll soon turn 31 years old, and in the view of one NL talent evaluator, his market may ultimately depend on his own contract demands after he reportedly rejected a four-year, $60 million deal from the Mets last offseason.
“His best- and worst-case scenario hinges more on him and his ego than anything that the marketplace will determine,” the exec said. “Not much changed this year than was the case last year. He’s the same player, only a year older. There comes a point in time when you have to cash in.”
Grandal will be class of catcher market
Oct. 28: Grandal made one of the bigger gambles of last season's Hot Stove when he turned down the Mets' four-year, $60 million offer and signed with the Brewers instead for a one-year deal. But he backed up his self-belief, finishing among baseball's top 20 players in FanGraphs WAR while combining superb offense (he tied Alex Bregman for MLB's second-highest walk rate, while also knocking 28 homers) with another elite year of pitch-framing behind the plate for Milwaukee.
Grandal, who possesses a $16 million mutual option ($2.25 million buyout) with the Brewers for 2020 that he's expected to decline, could now re-enter the market free of the qualifying offer that was attached to him last offseason, and he could cash in big as the undisputed top catcher available. More >