One of the “needs” of the Brewers to address this off-season is catcher. A couple weeks ago the Brewers signed Erik Kratz to a one year deal worth practically nothing. Currently Fangraphs depth charts have other catcher Manny Pina and Kratz sharing the workload with Jacob Nottingham backing them up. Nottingham has not become the catcher Milwaukee had hoped for when they acquired him in the Khris Davis trade years ago. Kratz will add good veteran leadership but is also 38 years old and coming off an over-achieving season with the Brewers. Manny Pina is coming off a season in which he hit a 85 wRC+ ranking 32nd among catchers with at least 150 PA. Between the two the Brewers ranked 20th in the league in terms of catcher WAR. Manny Pina had a war of 1.3 and Kratz .9.
Yasmani Grandal is just 30 years old and declined the Dodgers qualifying offer of $17.9 million. While two straight post-season struggles may have him viewed somewhat negatively in the public viewpoint, he has put together solid regular seasons and projects 2.9 WAR per 450 ABs according to Fangraphs. He has had wRC+ of 121, 102, 125 over the past 3 seasons respectively (for those who don’t know 121 would mean he 21% better than league average. Negative is below average). He has hit at least 22 home runs in each of those seasons while averaging about 132 games played per season over the past 3 seasons. While most people have heard about his offensive abilities, the only thing people know about his defense is how he has struggled in the past two Octobers. He, however, has been really solid defensively. When sorted by Baseball Prospectus’s FRAA ADJ (Fielding Runs Above Average Adjusted), Grandal ranks first. In other words, when putting framing, blocking, and throwing in to account, he has been the best catcher defensively. What is even more surprising is that 38 year old Erik Kratz ranked 8th! Talk about a dynamic duo behind the plate.
The logic here is simple. Grandal will bolster the lineup offensively and defensively. While Kratz and him might make a defensive clinic behind the plate, Kratz is 38 years old and a 162 game season at catcher will take a toll on his body. In addition, Kratz is not good offensively and Pina is also a below average hitter. If the Brewers sign Grandal to, lets say, a 3 year $30 million (Steamer has him at $10.19 million) and if we say he averages 2.5 WAR over 3 seasons, that will come to $4 million per WAR. For comparison sake Buster Posey, who has consistently ranked in the top 3 catchers in MLB has been worth $9.9 million per WAR since the start of his contract in 2013. Grandal is not expected to be Buster Posey, but can you expect him to be about 40% of what Posey’s prime years were? Yes I believe so. For his production, Grandal would be worth paying for and it would be cheaper than trading for Realmuto. The Brewers would benefit from Grandal in the regular season and when October arrives just go back Pina and Kratz as we all know Grandal’s October problem.
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