With the Catcher position still being one of the highest priorities for the Astros with the departure of Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado, we will explore the top Free Agent catcher on the market - Yasmani Grandal.
So who is Yasmani Grandal?
The 30 year old catcher was a top draft pick back in 2010, being the 12th overall pick by the Cincinnati Reds. The 6’1, 235 lb catcher is a switch hitter, known for a both a solid offensive profile and excellent defensive ratings.
John Sickels did an excellent Prospect Of the Day article back in 2012 when he was promoted to the majors, but here are some key take aways (as always, I highly recommend John’s work)
”He’s a very solid hitter, with good power and excellent strike zone judgment. He isn’t likely to hit .300 at the major league level, but he should produce above-average numbers in the power and OBP departments. He’s had few problems with professional pitching, maintaining his production at each level. His bat speed isn’t superb, but his refined approach to hitting helps him adjust.
Owner of a solid defensive reputation in college, he had a few problems last year, giving up 19 passed balls and committing 13 errors in 90 games behind the plate. He has more than enough mobility and has strong leadership skills, and his reliability should improve with more experience. His arm is average but his release can be a little slow; he caught 34% of runners last year and 24% so far in 2012. Although not a spectacular defender at this point, he will certainly stick at catcher and basically just needs more experience ironing out his receiving.
Overall, Grandal is a very impressive prospect, projecting as a regular major league catcher with power, strong OBP skills, and solid defense.”
John’s predictions seemed to have been very accurate as an overview for Grandal’s profile. His career stat line of .240/.341/.441 sporting a .352 wOBA has lead to a career 117 wRC+.
Since his start in 2012, his 117 wRC+ ranks 4th among all qualified catchers.
As a baseball fan who grew up holding a much higher value on batting average, it’s easy to get caught up on the lower batting average, but Grandal more than makes up for it due an excellent patience at the plate, holding a career 13.1% BB%, which ranks 16th overall in the majors since his debut.
Before I talk about his power, there’s another aspect of value that I really appreciated from Grandal that I don’t believe will be highlighted by most, his Pitches Per Plate Appearance. One of the most frustrating aspects of Astros baseball, is due to their aggressiveness, the Astros simply do not wear out many starting pitchers. In 2018, Grandal had the 6th highest Pitches Per Plate Appearance (PPA) at 4.29. George Springer was the highest ranking Astro coming in at 41st - with 4.03 PPA.
Grandal’s power is truly where his value comes out, in the past three years, he has belted 73 homeruns, trailing only Salvador Perez (at 76) - even more impressive when you consider the limited at bats - resulting in just over 1 per 20 at bats.
After last season, I think most fans would agree with wanting to ground into less double plays, and while the Catcher position isn’t known for adding speed, it’s something worth looking at.
Grandal clocked in at 24.5 feet per second, which is well below average for the league, but would run circles around McCann’s 22.7.
Grandal’s wGIDP comes in at -1.0, but again would be an improvement over the incumbent team’s average of -1.7.
As always, Catcher is a defense first type of position, but I always take defensive statistics with a grain of salt. There is a great article related to Catcher defense on Fangraphs that’s definitely worth the read.
Baseball Prospectus ranks Grandal as the #1 Pitch Framer in 2018 (4th in 2017, 2nd in 2016). Statcorner ranks him 2nd for the past 3 years straight. Overall the statistics to seem to agree that Grandal is one of the better pitcher framers in the game.
On Passsed Balls / Wild Pitches it gets a bit harder to determine the skill level of the catcher. Fangraphs had a good article back in 2011 where they looked to deep dive the statistic to build the skill correlation to the passed ball since simply the number isn’t a fair way to evaluate. But I was unable to find a good location for these stats - if anyone has one please let me know. Grandal ended the year with 9 Passed Balls and 31 Wild Pitches on the year.
On DRS - Grandal ranked 1st of the 6 qualified catchers with 39 over the past 3 years.
What It would take:
Here is MLB Trade Rumors prediction and overview:
”Nationals. Four years, $64MM. Grandal is the best available free agent catcher. He turns 30 in November and his 116 wRC+ ranks fourth among all catchers from 2016-18. He’s second among all catchers with 73 home runs during that time. Grandal is a switch-hitter and is above average against both righties and lefties. Though Grandal took his lumps defensively in the postseason and does allow a lot of passed balls, he’s one of the game’s best pitch framers and has been above-average in terms of caught-stealing rate over the past four seasons. Overall, Grandal is one of the better catchers in baseball, and he has a shot at the five-year contract standard reached by Brian McCann and Russell Martin. While many teams will prefer trading for Marlins backstop J.T. Realmuto to signing Grandal, only one can get Realmuto and the prospect cost will be substantial. The Dodgers have issued Grandal a qualifying offer but could otherwise move on. The Nationals, Rangers, Twins, Red Sox, Astros, Angels, Phillies, Mets, Braves, and Rockies could be suitors.”
While there are of course other options out there, we’ve looked at the 3 potential candidates, for our survey, let us know which would be your top pick for the Astros to go with. If you choose Realmuto, let us know who you think it would take trade wise. If you choose either Ramos or Grandal - let us know what was the deciding factor. For our speculation I’ll leave Realmuto with your best guess on trade value vs the MLBTR predicted signing values.
Wilson Ramos - 3/36
Yasmani Grandal - 4/64 + Loss of 2nd Round Pick
Realmuto - Some trade package that will hurt more than you think
Who is your choice for Astros future Catcher?
This poll is closed