Late last night, the Milwaukee Brewers inked free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to a 1-year contract that will pay him just a few thousand bucks more than the $17.9 million qualifying offer he declined from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the 2018 season. There is quite a bit to unpack there, all told.
For one, that Grandal - easily the best free agent catcher on the market - only landed a 1-year guarantee is noteworthy, particularly given the rumors of the 4-year contract he was discussing late last month with the New York Mets. Instead, he’ll settle for a deal that surely won’t have the MLBPA very happy, and will do so in the same division as the Cincinnati Reds, who both originally drafted him and reportedly had some interest in him just weeks ago.
It’s that last nugget that makes today’s report from Miami Marlins MLB.com reporter Joe Frisaro somewhat intriguing: the Reds are still in the mix for top catching trade target J.T. Realmuto, suggesting that they have maintained interest in both of the top available catchers this deep into the offseason.
The J.T. Realmuto Sweepstakes intensify with Yasmani Grandal's pending deal with the #Brewers The #Marlins seeking huge return. #Dodgers have a catching need and the prospects. #Braves #Reds #Rays #Padres #Astros also in the mix. LAD may be most motivated.— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) January 10, 2019
That the Reds have explored a major catching addition appears to be a pretty consistent theme we’ve seen revealed, as they were initially connected to Realmuto almost a full month ago. How serious they are about it, however, remains to be seen, especially given that Tucker Barnhart is a Gold Glove winner under team control for up to 4 more years at a quite reasonable $18.5 million total. There is certainly a wide gap between what Tucker can provide and what could reasonable be expected from Realmuto, who has been valued at 7.9 total bWAR since the start of the 2017 season, but given that the Reds still have needs on the pitching staff and potentially in CF, catcher doesn’t exactly stand out as a primary issue that needs fixing.
Given the other teams rumored to be in the mix for Realmuto and their relative needs for upgrades behind the plate, it would certainly seem the Reds impetus for a catching upgrade likely isn’t the strongest of the bunch. That said, if they were willing to include catching help like Barnhart in the deal - something SiriusXM’s Craig Mish mentioned last month - the Reds might have a bigger, more controllable catching trade chip than the others, which could conceivably work to their advantage. And if the prospect price has dropped any from potentially needing to include Taylor Trammell, well, that’s precisely a reason for the Reds to at least remain moderately engaged with Miami for now.
Who knows, staying in the mix even with slight real interest could at least help drive their competitors prices of acquisition up, which never hurts. Still, the persistent connection to catchers outside the current organization is one that keeps popping up, which is very, very :thinking_face: emoji.