The Mets are focused on acquiring catcher J.T. Realmuto, but they seem to have a fallback plan behind the plate if those talks collapse. Free agent Yasmani Grandal has emerged as a “strong possibility” for the Mets, Andy Martino of SNY tweets. Likewise, the White Sox are “looking at” Grandal, per Buster Olney of ESPN.
The 30-year-old Grandal, who has spent his career with the Padres and Dodgers, ranks as the top catcher available in free agency this winter. MLBTR predicts Grandal will receive a four-year, $64MM contract on the heels of yet another strong season in Los Angeles, where the switch-hitter slashed .241/.349/.466 (125 wRC+) and totaled at least 20 home runs (24) for the third straight campaign. He’s also a well-regarded backstop, despite some notable miscues in the playoffs, as Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the premier defensive catcher in the game in 2018.
Any team that signs Grandal would have to give up more than just money, as he rejected a $17.9MM qualifying offer from the Dodgers after the season. In the cases of New York and Chicago, that would mean surrendering their second-highest draft pick and $500K in international signing bonus pool space in 2019. Meanwhile, the Dodgers would receive a compensatory draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B for Grandal’s departure.
For both the Mets and White Sox, it’s easy to see a fit for Grandal. New York’s current catcher trio – Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido – inspires little confidence, while the White Sox traded 2018 starter Omar Narvaez to the Mariners for reliever Alex Colome earlier this offseason. The White Sox do still have veteran Welington Castillo on hand, though he only has one guaranteed year left on his contract, and general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday (via James Fegan of The Athletic) that prospects Zack Collins and Seby Zavala aren’t yet ready for the majors. However, Hahn did note that it would make more sense “on paper” for the White Sox to pursue a backup catcher instead of a starter.