In a shocking free agent move, the Chicago White Sox have signed Yasmani Grandal to a 4-year, $73 million-dollar deal. Several teams were said to be in on Grandal as he was not only the best catcher available this offseason, but also one of the very best catchers in all of baseball. After showing some flashes with San Diego, Grandal broke out with the Dodgers and wound up with a healthy 116 wRC+ over his four seasons in LA.
He averaged 22 HR, 61 RBI, 52 R, and a .790 OPS in about 470 PA per year. He has added PA yearly since 2015, culminating in a 632 PA effort in 2019 during which he hit 28 HR with 77 RBI, 79 R, and an .848 OPS. Additionally, Grandal has been one of the best defensive catchers in the league, especially with his framing. Thanks to that defense, Grandal has led the MLB in WAR since 2015 at 24.9, edging out Buster Posey (22.4) and J.T. Realmuto (17.3).
Grandal joins a White Sox team that seemed locked in at catcher with veteran James McCann taking the lead role and prospect Zack Collins backing him up. Instead, it now appears McCann will be pushed into backup duty while Collins will push to secure the DH role. Grandal’s framing will be a welcomed addition by the Sox pitchers as MLB’s Sarah Langs points out:
Yasmani Grandal was tied for 2nd-most Runs Extra Strikes from framing in 2019 among qualified catchers, at +13.
The White Sox primary catcher James McCann was -16, the worst mark among qualified catchers — by a lot.
So the White Sox just went from worst to T-2nd-best there…
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) November 21, 2019
McCann rode an obscene .408 BABIP to an .873 first half OPS and All-Star appearance with 9 HR and 30 RBI in 251 PA. He matched the 9 HR and 30 RBI in 225 second half PA, but his AVG tanked from .316 to .226 as the BABIP came back to Earth .299. It was clear that the 30-year old was a bit fortunate and probably shouldn’t have a full-time role to himself, especially with the poor framing (though his arm has regularly been above average).
On the fantasy landscape, Grandal’s stock remains the same. He should be a top 3 catcher off the board. McCann’s value was limited to two-catcher and AL-Only leagues before this and Grandal’s arrival no doubt hits him hard. The extra boost in catcher framing will probably inch Lucas Giolito up even higher on boards and he could realistically wind up in the top 10 SPs by draft season in March. I’ve already shown some love for Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech so this move certainly helps. And now I can delude myself into thinking this will greatly impact Reynaldo Lopez because we all know I was going to quit him anyway. I’m weak.