Milwaukee Brewers: Free agent Yasmani Grandal is a stay away

The Milwaukee Brewers are looking to upgrade their current group of catchers, but they need to stay away from free agent Yasmani Grandal.

Yasmani Grandal is rated as one of the top free agents on the market this off season. The Milwaukee Brewers should look elsewhere to improve their situation at catcher. Grandal’s cost, potential performance, and issues in the playoffs make him a stay away. Let’s dig a little deeper…

How did Grandal perform in 2018?

Grandal posted a 3.6 WAR for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018. He slashed .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers, 68 RBIs, and graded out positively behind the dish.

He also struggled badly in the playoffs with a .138/.265/.276 slash line in 14 games. His defense was also an issue as he committed two errors, allowed three passed balls, and was behind the plate for three wild pitches. He only caught one of four attempted base stealers.

How much will Grandal cost? projects Grandal to get a deal worth $64 million over four years. That’s more than Lorenzo Cain has remaining on a five-year deal he signed last year.

Why isn’t Grandal worth the investment?

First there’s his age. Grandal just turned 30, and a four-year deal at $64 million would pay him an average of $16 million per year until his age 34 season. How many 34-year old catchers can live up to a contract that large? Not many, and probably not Grandal.

2018 was the best season that Grandal has ever had. His 3.6 WAR is a career high by almost a full point. He’s closer to the 2.5-2.9 WAR player he’s been for most of his career, and expecting a repeat of his age-30 season is unlikely.

He’s only a year removed from a .247/.308/.459 slash line. Manny Pina posted a .307 OBP last year, and he lost playing time to Erik Kratz. How ugly does a .308 OBP sound with a contract that pays $16 million?

Grandal will likely get the years and dollars that he’s seeking because teams need solid catchers. However, the Milwaukee Brewers have to play this off season with a young core in mind. Josh Hader, Jesus Aguilar, Corbin Burnes, and Travis Shaw aren’t expensive right now, but they will be soon. The Brewers can’t handcuff their future budget for a player who has a peak WAR value of 3.6.

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Grandal may make sense for the Milwaukee Brewers on paper, but the cost and the production are unlikely to match. A deal for J.T. Realmuto, or a more modest deal for Wilson Ramos will also upgrade the Brewers at catcher, but won’t come with the same financial risks as Grandal.