The catching market is off to a rapid start to the off-season this year, as Yasmani Grandal, easily the best available free agent catcher, has signed a 4 year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. The contract is now the largest to ever be handed out by the club, surpassing the 6 year, $68 million deal that Jose Abreu received in October 2013.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the contract will include a full no-trade clause for the 2020 season, as well as limited no-trade protection in the remaining years of his contract. As for annual pay in the contract, Grandal will make $18.25 million each season.
Grandal is coming off a strong year with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he had signed a one year deal worth $16 million, with a mutual option of $16 million, which was declined earlier this month. In 2019, Grandal slashed .246/.380/.468 with 28 home runs and 79 runs batted in. His walk rate of 17.2% was the highest of his career and his 5.2 fWAR was the second highest mark of his career, tied with his 2015 season. Since 2015, Grandal has led all catchers in fWAR with 24.9 and has also led all catchers in home runs with 117 in that span.
Grandal was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 MLB Draft as the 12th overall pick out of the University of Miami. He made his debut in 2012 with the San Diego Padres and produced a strong rookie season, slashing .297/.394/.469 with an OPS+ of 143 in 60 games. After the 2014 season, Grandal was shipped to the Dodgers in the Matt Kemp trade, where he garnered an All-Star appearance and received MVP votes in 2016.
For the White Sox, the club now has 5 catchers on their 40-man roster, with James McCann, Zack Collins, Yermin Mercedes, and Seby Zavala joining Grandal. The most likely scenario is that McCann becomes a DH with Collins being the back-up to Grandal in 2020, but a lot of roster shuffling seems imminent. As for the club moving forward, the team looks ready to spend more cash this off-season as they prepare for a playoff run in the near future.