Phillies free agency target profile: Catcher Yasmani Grandal

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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Yasmani Grandal #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out the runner during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Yasmani Grandal #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out the runner during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies stand to make an upgrade at the catcher position this offseason, and Yasmani Grandal is one of the best catchers available to sign.

Before the midseason acquisition of Wilson Ramos, the Phillies had little production from the catching position. Jorge Alfaro showed some positive signs in his development but still had his issues. Meanwhile, Andrew Knapp seemingly iced himself out of a roster spot next year after his struggles at and behind the plate.

Looking at 2019, Philadelphia needs a better second catcher to pair with Alfaro. There are several good catchers on the market, but no one can quite stack up to Yasmani Grandal. The 30-year-old is the best catcher and No. 6 overall free agent on the market according to MLB Trade Rumors.

If the Phils are going to sign a catcher, Grandal is likely their best option. Let’s take a look at the case to sign and not sign him.

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Reasons to sign Grandal

Grandal is one of the best offensive catchers in the game. In 2018, he ranked second among all catchers in Fangraphs wins above replacement. Among catchers with 200 or more plate appearances, he was third in wRC+ (125), tied for third in slugging percentage (.466), fourth in weighted on-base average, and fifth in on-base percentage (.349).

Grandal is one of the best power-hitting catchers as well. His .225 isolated power was the best among catchers and 15th among all qualified NL hitters. He finished with 24 home runs and 68 runs batted in over 140 games as part of a dynamic Dodgers lineup.

Grandal was also the best pitch framer in the league per Baseball Prospectus’s numbers. He finished with the most framing runs (15.7) among all catchers. He also had the highest adjusted fielding runs above average total.

Reasons not to sign Grandal

While I just praised Grandal for his defense, he still has some issues behind the plate. He led the NL in passed balls in 2016 and all of MLB in 2017. He was second in the NL behind only Alfaro in 2018.

This year, Grandal caught 20 baserunners stealing, which was fifth-most in the NL, but also allowed 52 stolen bases, which was fourth-most. His caught stealing rate has hovered around the league-average the last few years. Grandal also ranked 73rd in pop time, 57th in throw velocity, and 61st in exchange time among 108 catchers measured by MLB Statcast.

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Grandal has a similar batting profile to Carlos Santana, who drew the ire of fans this year. While Grandal usually posts a strong on-base percentage, he has never hit above .250 in his career. He also has struck out around 25% of the time in the last three years.

Signing Grandal also means Alfaro gets relegated to the backup catcher role. Grandal is a more than capable starting catcher, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, this is tacitly admitting that the team doesn’t believe in Alfaro as a starting-caliber catcher moving forward.

Verdict

If the Phillies are truly looking to boost their lineup, getting Grandal’s bat into it is a great way to do it. He should offer about 2.5-3 wins above replacement per season, adding another boost to the roster. You can keep Grandal and still split time with Alfaro, allowing him to continue to develop.

Grandal was predicted to get a four-year, $64 million contract by MLBTR. As long as the team doesn’t go hog wild spending in other areas, they should be able to pay Grandal easily. Plus they will still have Alfaro on cheap pre or early arbitration deals throughout Grandal’s potential deal.

Phillies free agency target: SP Patrick Corbin. dark. Next

If the opportunity to sign Grandal is there, Philadelphia should make a run at him.

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