One of the best catchers in the majors is once again a free agent, as Yasmani Grandal declined a $16-million mutual option to return to the Milwaukee Brewers. The two-time All-Star signed a one-year, $18.25-million contract with the club last offseason.
Grandal, 31, will be a hot commodity after putting together a stellar 2019 campaign. He led all National League catchers with 28 home runs and his 5.2 WAR trailed only J.T. Realmuto at the position, according to FanGraphs.
The eight-year veteran will command a multi-year contract that could surpass the reported four-year, $60-million deal he turned down from the New York Mets in December 2018.
Here are five possible landing spots for the star Cuban catcher.
Grandal was an extremely important part of the Brewers' 2019 success. He led all catchers in games played with 153 - 124 of those coming via starts behind the plate - and worked with a Milwaukee pitching staff that can take a major leap in 2020 behind young right-handers Brandon Woodruff and Adrian Houser. Grandal's bat will also be essential if the club has postseason aspirations, especially if it loses Mike Moustakas in free agency. With Christian Yelich on a team-friendly deal, Josh Hader up for arbitration for the first time in his career, and Keston Hiura still in his pre-arbitration years, the Brewers are in a position to offer Grandal the contract he desires.
The Braves will be looking to make an offseason splash after a disastrous National League Division Series collapse following a 97-win campaign. Tyler Flowers is in the mix to start behind the plate for the Braves, but the club is down a catcher after 15-year veteran Brian McCann retired, and Grandal would mark a major improvement on both. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already said Atlanta will try to re-sign Josh Donaldson, but Grandal could be a nice backup plan if the third baseman ends up signing elsewhere.
If any team needs a massive upgrade at catcher, it's the Angels. The club's five backstops last season combined for -0.6 WAR, which was the fourth-worst mark in baseball. Owner Arte Moreno said the Angels will add to their payroll, so the front office will have room to operate. Many believe the Angels will make a serious run at free-agent ace Gerrit Cole, and Grandal could complete a dream battery. The catcher could also help mentor a young Los Angeles pitching staff.
The Astros are mostly set at every position except catcher. Houston's incumbents - Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldonado - are both free agents. Chirinos is coming off a nice age-35 season in which he put up a .790 OPS with 17 home runs, but Grandal is still a big upgrade and much younger. The addition of the All-Star catcher could also help with the potential departure of Cole. The Astros' lineup would be the deepest in the majors with Grandal, which would take the pressure off a starting rotation losing arguably baseball's best hurler.
Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall were very aggressive last offseason, and more of the same could be on the horizon with the team's payroll set to increase. Cincinnati has catcher Tucker Barnhart under contract for a few more years but an opportunity to add a player like Grandal - who the club drafted in the first round in 2010 - may be too sweet to pass up. Pairing his bat with the likes of Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino would be exciting, especially at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
Steamer projects Grandal to hit .244/.358/.460 in 2020, with a 115 wRC+ and 4.8 WAR, while once again being one of the best defensive catchers in the majors, according to FanGraphs.