Yasmani Grandal's move to the Brewers is a big deal ... even if it wasn't the biggest deal he was offered

Yasmani Grandal was introduced by the Brewers on Tuesday.  Grandal recently signed a one-year, $18.25 million deal with Milwaukee for the 2019 season.  He’ll make $16 million in 2019 and has a $16 million mutual option for the 2020 campaign.  Should the mutual option not be picked up by either side, Grandal will receive a $2.25 million buyout. 

Recent reports from around the majors indicate that the 30-year old catcher turned down a multi-year offer from the Mets.  New York was reportedly willing to offer Grandal a four-year deal.  The monetary amount of the deal was reportedly somewhere in the mid-$50 to possibly $60 million range. 

For this purpose, let’s say the Mets were willing to offer Grandal a four-year, $60 million deal.  He’d be averaging $15 million per year over the next four seasons.  Grandal had the opportunity for long-term financial security.  Instead, the 2015 National League All-Star is betting on himself to produce and set the stage for a much more lucrative contract following next season.  There's just one problem with that: catchers have not been raking enormous sums of money on the free agent market over the last few years. 

Largest Free Agent Contracts Given to Catchers

Since January 1, 2016

Player                         Contract                                 Team              Signing Age    Date

Jason Castro                3-years, $24.5 million              Twins              29                    11/30/2016

Matt Wieters               2-yrs, $21 million                    Nationals         30                    02/24/2017

Wilson Ramos             2-yrs, $19 million                    Mets                31                    12/28/2018

Yasmani Grandal        1-yr, $18.25 million                 Brewers           30                    01/14/2019

Welington Castillo      2-yrs, $15 million                    White Sox       30                    12/01/2017

Granted, few catchers have the total offensive prowess of Grandal.  Take a look at where Grandal ranks offensively among catchers since the start of the 2016 season. 

Yasmani Grandal

Offensive Numbers with MLB Catching Ranks

Home Runs                 73                    2nd                   

Extra Base Hits           140                  3rd

RBI                             198                  3rd

OPS+                          113                  5th

The above numbers are based on players who have caught at least 50 percent of their games.  In addition, the OPS+ ranking is among catchers with at least 1,000 plate appearances in that span.

Arguably, Grandal is also one of baseball’s better defensive catchers, his NLCS case of the yips on passed balls notwithstanding.  Take a look at the defensive runs saved leaders among catchers over the last three years.

DRS Leaders

Among Catchers since the Start of the 2016 season 

Yasmani Grandal        +39

Buster Posey               +35

Martin Maldonado      +32

Austin Hedges             +31

Jeff Mathis                  +31

In other words, Grandal is the complete package from the catching position.  He wants to be paid just as some of baseball’s other great catchers were.  For example, Russell Martin signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Blue Jays prior to the 2015 season. That contract appears to be one of the final crop before teams became more parsimonious, either because of an internal focus on cost constraint, efforts to stay below luxury tax thresholds or, as some agents would allege, due to outright collusion.  Teams are simply not going to pay $80+ million for a catcher anymore.  The fact that the Mets were reportedly willing to go near the $60 million was amazing. 

We get that Grandal feels shortchanged. We have a feeling a lot of players currently feel this way.  Yes, it’s hard to feel sorry for millionaires.  Remember though that major leaguers have short lifespans in terms of monetary potential.  We respect the fact that Grandal is betting on himself.  Yet, based on the recent market trend, $60 million might be the best bet. 

Grandal needs to sign a three-year contract for $41.75 million next season to at least match what the Mets might have offered.  The only way we see that happening is if Grandal puts up a monster offensive year — such as 25+ homers, 90+ RBI — and if the catching market remains barren.  There aren’t a lot of exceptional catchers set to become free agents after the 2019 season.

Notable Free Agent Catchers after the 2019 Season

With 2018 Offensive Numbers

Francisco Cervelli                   Robinson Chirinos      Russell Martin             Brian McCann

.259 AVG                               .222 AVG                   .194 AVG                   .212 AVG

12 HR                                     18 HR                         10 HR                         7 HR  

57 RBI                                    65 RBI                        25 RBI                        23 RBI

123 OPS+                               97 OPS+                     86 OPS+                     79 OPS+

Long story short: Grandal is betting on himself. Now we all get to sit back and see if he can overcome the long odds in recent times and have his faith and self confidence be rewarded.