As we approach the MLB free agency period that begins on November 2nd, we have to wonder if it’s worth it to the Milwaukee Brewers to pursue current Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal in order to shore up a weaker position on this team?
Even through the Milwaukee Brewers successful 2018 season, there were questions swirling around the catcher position. It was an area that some wanted the Brewers to address before the trade deadline.
Having a catcher in the bottom of the batting order that can get on base has a tremendous impact on the Brewers offense. If the back end of the lineup can get hits to drive in runners already on or get on base for Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich at the top of the order, the offense is much more effective.
A starting pitcher is on everyone’s radar this offseason but I would anticipate GM David Stearns looking for help at catcher as well.
Currently still competing in the World Series with the L.A. Dodgers, Grandal has been with the team since 2015, but is in the final year of his contract. Grandal has been paid $7.9 million for the 2018 season and will most likely be looking for a similar return when he enters free agency.
Grandal has been a consistent starter for L.A., playing in 140 games this season. He was able to put up a slash line of .241/.349/.466 and an OPS of .815. Grandal also added 24 home runs, 68 RBIs and had a WAR of 3.3.
Yasmani began the first half of the season much better than he finished it, as his second half performance dropped him in most statistical categories. And that has carried over to the playoffs where Grandal has struggled both offensively and defensively thus far.
Defensively this season, Grandal recorded just seven errors over the 140 games he played but doesn’t possess the same ability to throw out base stealers as Manny Pina does. Grandal threw out 20 base runners but had 52 successfully steal a base on him.
What we saw from Grandal offensively this season is pretty close to what he’s done over his career. The veteran has a career slash line of .240/.341/.441 and an OPS of .782.
Brewers current catchers
Manny Pina had a solid 2018 season and we can expect to see him back in 2019, perhaps in more of a full-time role rather than splitting time as he did this year with Erik Kratz. Pina’s contract is far less than what Grandal’s will be as he was paid just $560,000 in 2018.
Pina did have less plate appearances than Grandal but was able to put up a better slash line that consisted of .252/.307/.395. Pina has also been just as good at the plate, if not better in those categories over his career as well.
Unfortunately after Pina, the Milwaukee Brewers have some uncertainty at the position. Erik Kratz most likely won’t be returning, we aren’t sure if Stephen Vogt will recover fully from his injury and Jett Bandy is unreliable.
Does it make sense to sign Grandal?
This would be a signing that may excite some but for a few particular reasons, I don’t think this makes sense for the Brewers.
Grandal’s offensive numbers aren’t any better than Pina’s, in fact they are worse in some categories and defensively Pina is superior. Compared to Pina, Grandal isn’t really an upgrade and if we factor in the price tag for him, this really doesn’t make much sense. The Brewers can spend that money better elsewhere and get an actual upgrade.
Lastly, the Milwaukee Brewers have Jacob Nottingham to help fill in when Pina needs a day off. Nottingham appeared in nine games last season, making six starts and was on Milwaukee’s September roster.
He has been held in high regard in the Brewers minor league system and has the potential to be the go-to catcher for years to come. The 2019 season could be a great opportunity for Nottingham to get more action at the big league level and to show off his skill set.
Bringing in a bigger name does sound exciting, but on paper and given the Milwaukee Brewers current situation signing Grandal just doesn’t make sense.