Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Now With The White Sox, Will Yasmani Grandal Remain One Of The Elite Catchers?

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Will the 2019/2020 offseason move a little bit faster than we’ve seen in recent years? The first big move has already arrived, with the Chicago White Sox making a splash by signing Yasmani Grandal for 4 years and $73 million. Clearly Grandal’s decision to sign a one-year deal with the Brewers a year ago paid dividends, as he secured a contract well in excess of the rumored numbers.

Obviously part of the gamble was dependent on being able to produce in 2019, and he delivered on that end:

513 At Bats
.246 Batting Average (126 Hits)
28 Home Runs
77 RBI
79 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.380 On Base Percentage
.468 Slugging Percentage
.279 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Obviously the average wasn’t ideal, as it fell off dramatically as the season progressed (.229 in the second half). What’s interesting is that all of the supporting numbers point to a significantly better mark overall:

  • Hard% – 45.4%
  • Fly Ball Rate – 38.0%
  • Oppo% – 25.9%
  • SwStr% – 9.1%
  • O-Swing% – 24.4%

We know he’s not going to have much speed as a catcher, and that’s going to limit his ability to maintain an elevated BABIP. Throw in the rigors of catching every day, which also is going to hurt, and it makes sense to an extent. Still, it’s easy to envision a better mark if he can replicate the numbers. You could even argue that getting out of Milwaukee only is going to help after he hit .221 at home compared to .266 on the road.

Maybe he just didn’t like hitting in the ballpark, considering his 35 extra base hits on the road (21 at home) including 18 doubles, 2 triples and 15 HR. A career .241 hitter, the underlying metrics have continued to improve with age.

For just how long he could thrive remains to be seen, as he’s already 31-years old. While there was power against all types of pitches, his .163 AVG against sliders and .229 against curveballs is something to watch. Still it’s not enough of a red flag to drag him down, as even as a .250ish hitter with power he’d have value (especially in a Chicago lineup that could produce opportunity for both RBI and R).

You could argue whether he’s worth this type of contract long-term, though the veteran presence will help both the pitchers and the young, developing offensive weapons. That said he should remain among the best catchers in the league, at least for the first year or two, and could even take another step forward in his production.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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