Last winter, the Milwaukee Brewers signaled their intent to compete by signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich within a few hours' time. On Thursday, general manager David Stearns pulled off what he hopes will prove to be as fruitful a move as either of those by reportedly agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with free-agent backstop Yasmani Grandal. The team made the deal official Monday.
The deal is expected to pay Grandal more than $18 million:
Grandal deal with Brewers worth $18.25m. One year.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 10, 2019
Grandal, 30, is coming off a poor postseason that saw him falter both at and behind the plate. Still, his track record suggests he's an above-average contributor each way. Over the last three seasons, he's hit .239/.332/.467 (113 OPS+) with an average of 24 home runs and 132 appearances. Despite a propensity for passed balls, Grandal grades as one of the best framers in baseball, a distinction that makes him a valuable defender overall.
The Brewers, now, look to have successfully upgraded one of the weakest parts of their lineup. Milwaukee relied upon Manny Pina and Erik Kratz in 2018 to handle their catching. Neither is a particularly skilled hitter, and Kratz is an attrition risk as he enters his age-39 season.
That Grandal had to settle for a one-year deal is a surprising development. Quality catching is in low supply across the majors and various contenders -- including the Los Angeles Dodgers -- seemed like potential fits. The New York Mets reportedly made Grandal a multi-year offer that he rejected. The Mets would move on and sign Wilson Ramos instead.
Apparently no other team was willing to guarantee Grandal multiple years. The Brewers now stand to benefit from that decision.