With 20-plus homers in each of the past three seasons, a lifetime 13.1 percent walk rate and well-regarded defensive tools behind the plate, Yasmani Grandal enters free agency as one of the most valuable backstops in baseball.
Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the catcher.
Now that the Mets have found their catcher, how does that affect the market for Grandal?
Dec. 16: The Mets were rumored to be a serious suitor for free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, but New York struck a two-year deal with Wilson Ramos on Sunday. What does that mean for Grandal?
The two premier catchers remaining on the market this offseason are Grandal and Marlins All-Star backstop J.T. Realmuto, who is on the trade block. The clubs that are still reportedly looking for an upgrade behind the plate include the Reds, Rays, Brewers, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Astros and White Sox.
According to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, Los Angeles is open to the idea of bringing Grandal back on a one-year deal, though it may not be for as much as the $17.9 million qualifying offer the Dodgers extended him following the end of the World Series.
But the Dodgers are also reportedly serious players for Realmuto, as are several of the teams noted above. That may mean that until Realmuto is moved, Grandal may be in a holding pattern.
Grandal, who turned 30 last month, had his best offensive season in 2018, slashing .241/.349/.466 with 24 home runs in 140 games. Though he struggled defensively during the postseason, he is known as a very good defensive catcher.
Are the Mets closing in on their next catcher? What about center field?
Dec. 14: The Mets are "very serious" about free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal as their next backstop, according to SNY's Andy Martino, who also notes New York's catching situation may be "moving closer to resolution." Grandal is the best defensive catcher on the market, his struggles behind the plate during the postseason notwithstanding.
Grandal, 30, had his best offensive season to date in 2018, hitting .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers in 140 games for the Dodgers. While the Mets have also been rumored to be among several clubs in pursuit of Marlins trade candidate J.T. Realmuto, the situation appears to remain fluid.
The Mets are also continuing a serious pursuit of an upgrade in center field, and free agent A.J. Pollock remains their top choice according to Martino. Pollock, 31, slashed .257/.316/.484 with 21 homers in 113 games for the D-backs last season, though prior to being injured in mid-May, he was hitting .293/.349/.620 with 11 homers in 40 games. He has also proved to be a strong defensive center fielder.
New York has already been very active this offseason, acquiring second baseman Robinson Cano from the Mariners and signing free-agent reliever Jeurys Familia to a three-year deal that reunites him with his former team.
Is Grandal part of Mets' backup plan if they don't get Realmuto?
Dec. 13: The Mets are among the suitors for the Marlins' All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, but where could they turn if a deal doesn't get done?
While MLB.com's Anthony DiComo wrote earlier this week that they might focus their attention on the top free-agent backstops, like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos, that may no longer be the plan.
The Mets' top choice seems to be working out a deal for Realmuto, with Grandal being their second choice, as MLB Network insider Joel Sherman reported the club is seeking a catcher capable of providing strong offense and defense.
If the Mets can't pull off a trade for Realmuto, though, and Grandal's price tag is too steep, Sherman expects they would target a defense-first catcher like free agent Martin Maldonado, rather than a more offensive-oriented option like Ramos. Part of that could be the benefit someone like Maldonado could bring to a team that will rely heavily on a strong pitching staff.
The New York Post's Mike Puma reported that the club is hesitant to sign Ramos due to his defensive shortcomings and injury history. Maldonado presents the best defensive option, and will likely come at the lowest cost, but is hitting just .220/.289/.350 through eight years in the big leagues.
Realmuto's trade market is impacting Grandal
Dec. 12: In case you haven't been paying attention, J.T. Realmuto arguably has been the most headline-making name at the Winter Meetings this week. (If you want the latest on the Marlins' catcher, who could be traded any day now, you can find it here.) Just as important, though, is the impact all of the Realmuto rumors are having on the rest of the backstop market, especially for free agents like Yasmani Grandal, who is at or near the top of those available.
While everyone waits to see what will happen with Realmuto, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo speculates that once that long-awaited saga is decided, the big free agent catchers -- including Grandal and Wilson Ramos, among others -- could start falling into place.
For instance: It's been widely reported the Mets are after Realmuto and may, in fact, be the front-runners to make a swap for him. But if that doesn't happen, they could pivot quickly and target Grandal. "We know how much [Mets GM] Brodie [Van Wagenen] likes Realmuto, but we're starting to hear that he likes Grandal quite a bit as well," as SNY's Andy Martino said.
Stay tuned here, because once we get some resolution with Realmuto, the backstop dominoes could start to fall -- fast.
White Sox considering Grandal
Dec. 11: While the race for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has taken center stage at the Winter Meetings, the market for Yasmani Grandal has yet to develop. Some teams, such as the Mets, are seemingly viewing Grandal as more of a fallback option rather than a top target.
However, ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the White Sox, who aren't believed to be in the running for Realmuto, are considering Grandal.
The White Sox traded Omar Narvaez to the Mariners earlier this offseason for reliever Alex Colome, leaving Welington Castillo and Seby Zavala as the only catchers on the 40-man roster. Castillo has his share of value, but his lifetime .708 OPS vs. righties (.846 OPS vs. LHP) suggests he's better suited for a part-time role. The 30-year-old Grandal is a switch-hitter who does his best work against righties, so the two could fit well together.
Chicago is reportedly looking to expedite its rebuilding process with a big-name free agent or two and could be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in addition to Grandal.
One offensive stat that boosts Grandal's value
Dec. 3: The catcher market has been, uh, busy so far this offseason. That's why it's somewhat surprising that there's been little in the way of news about perhaps the top backstop available in free agency, Yasmani Grandal.
ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the 30-year-old "might be a natural fit" for the Mets. After the club's acquisition of second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from the Mariners, it looks like New York is building to contend in 2019, so addressing the catcher position would make sense. The Mets do have Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki behind the plate, but neither has proven to be all that durable or reliable the past two seasons.
Grandal, on the other hand, has been steady, healthy and productive, averaging north of 24 homers and 131 games played from 2016-18. A big reason why the switch-hitter has performed so well at the dish? He was "among the leaders at his position in a lot of numbers, and among all positions in the damage he waged against fastballs," Olney points out. "He had a .637 slugging percentage versus fastballs during the regular season, the ninth highest in the majors."
That sort of ability against heaters has to be appealing to the Mets, or any other club still seeking a starting catcher, like the Astros, Angels and Indians, among others.
Grandal an elite pitch-framer, giving him an advantage in the catcher market
Nov. 29: Yasmani Grandal had a rough postseason defensively, but that doesn't change the fact that he has been an elite pitch-framer, giving him a distinct advantage over the other top catcher on the market, Wilson Ramos. MLB.com's David Adler breaks it down.
"Since 2015, Grandal's gotten called strikes on 52.5 percent of borderline takes," writes Adler. "MLB catchers overall have gotten 47.0 percent called strikes, Ramos just 46.1 percent. Among regular catchers -- those who have averaged at least 1,000 borderline pitches received over the last four seasons -- Grandal's called-strike rate is second-best. Ramos' ranks 30th. The catcher better than Grandal is Jeff Mathis, and Mathis (who just recently signed with the Rangers) can't hit like Grandal."
From 2013-18, Grandal posted a 113 OPS+ with 89 homers for the Dodgers, and was an All-Star selection in '15. He had his best offensive campaign last season, hitting .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers.