Grandal, 30, was the best catcher on a market that offered numerous options. His bat will be an upgrade for Milwaukee over last season’s platoon of Manny Piña and Erik Kratz and leaves the Los Angeles Dodgers with a possible hole to fill at the catcher position to pair alongside Austin Barnes.
The switch-hitting Grandal’s exit from the Dodgers was not ideal. After leading the league in passed balls in 2017, he allowed nine more in the 2018 regular season, then three more in the National League championship series alone. Also, his career playoff batting average fell to .107. His offensive production and defensive framing ability convinced the Brewers to sign Grandal despite the cost of a draft pick.
The Dodgers gave Grandal a $17.9 million qualifying offer that he rejected. Therefore, the Brewers will give up a compensatory draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B, following the second round.
Since Grandal’s 2012 debut, only Buster Posey has had a better adjusted OPS among catchers. Grandal batted .241 last season, about his career average. His .349 on-base percentage was near a career best. He also hit 24 home runs, the third consecutive season with at least 22.
Grandal is consistently rated among the best at framing pitches. Still, his October shortcomings are not insignificant, and the last scouts would have seen of Grandal was his being replaced as the Dodgers’ starter for another postseason. Beyond his defensive failures, he was 3 for 24 in the first two rounds of the postseason and spent most of the World Series on the bench, logging just seven plate appearances during the five-game series. Over his career, Grandal is 8 for 75 (.107) in 32 postseason games, all with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers gave him the qualifying offer, which dampened Grandal’s free-agent case in a deep catching class that still includes Martin Maldonado, Evan Gattis, Matt Wieters, Devin Mesoraco and Nick Hundley. Kurt Suzuki and Jeff Mathis already signed two-year deals worth $10 million and $6.25 million, respectively. Jonathan Lucroy signed with the Angels for $3.3 million, Robinson Chirinos with the Houston Astros for $5.75 million, Wilson Ramos with the New York Mets for $19 million over two years and Brian McCann with the Atlanta Braves for $2 million.
Ultimately, the Brewers looked past the postseason numbers. In the regular season, only Ramos and J.T. Realmuto had a higher OPS among catchers than Grandal’s .815, and only Realmuto’s WAR was higher than Grandal’s 3.3.
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