Reds' FA target Grandal signs with White Sox

November 21st, 2019

CINCINNATI -- One of the bigger prizes on the free agent market -- catcher -- was someone the Reds were interested in signing. But Grandal came off the board early when he inked a four-year, $73 million contract with the White Sox on Thursday.

Cincinnati’s primary mission this offseason is to make upgrades to its lineup, with the catcher position being an area of interest. The 31-year-old Grandal batted .246/.380/.468 with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs in 2019 for the Brewers. Five Reds catchers -- led by and --- combined to hit 21 homers with 79 RBIs.

Grandal was the Reds’ first-round Draft pick in 2010, but he was part of a trade package with the Padres to acquire starting pitcher Mat Latos ahead of the ‘12 season. As a free agent last winter, Grandal bet on himself by turning down a reported four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets and instead signed a one-year, $18.25 million contract with Milwaukee.

The gamble clearly worked. MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the new contract has a full no-trade clause for 2020 and limited no-trade protection from ‘21-23.

Forced to move on from Grandal, the Reds already have decent options behind the plate in Barnhart and Casali. Tyler Stephenson, ranked as the organization’s No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, had a big season at Double-A Chattanooga this year and followed up with strong performances in the Arizona Fall League. Stephenson could be in the big leagues at some point in 2020.

Grandal’s addition also creates a catching glut of sorts for Chicago. That could make James McCann, a 2019 American League All-Star, a potential trade chip.

The Reds still have other areas where they can look to upgrade offensively, including the outfield, shortstop and second base.