The back of Yasmani Grandal’s baseball card speaks for itself. He is a lock for production with the stick and an All-Star caliber backstop.
With the retirement of Brian McCann, the Braves played things safe, bringing back Tyler Flowers on a one-year deal. However, he is the only catcher on the major league roster, and Atlanta will search the market for another. The Braves also only have so many spots where they can upgrade the lineup, and with three young viable options ready to take over in the outfield, it may not make sense to add another body right now.
The question is, how much do the Braves value the position offensively? Is Grandal a priority given he will receive around the $16 million AAV he did last season? I think he is an option, albeit likely a backup option if Anthopoulos’ initial plan falls apart.
Priority number one seems to be bringing back Josh Donaldson. There has reportedly been mutual interest, suggesting this is a strong possibility, as long as the Braves can give him an offer in the ballpark of competing teams. However, Donaldson should not defer the Braves from signing Grandal. After all, they have a ton of money coming off the books between the expiring contracts of Darren O’Day, Julio Teheran, and Dallas Keuchel – with Donaldson set to receive an AAV in the same neighborhood as last year. The next biggest concern is the rotation. How much will they invest in it? Do they move Sean Newcomb back to the rotation and sign a 5th starter to a more economical deal than the money that was due to Teheran? Or do they empty their pockets for a player they can stick atop their rotation?
The first option may not sound appealing to Braves fans, but we all know that is a possibility. It’s not a given the Braves will be able to land an ace like Bumgarner, who they are reportedly making a priority this offseason. There will be a ton of suitors with much deeper pockets interested in his services, as well as the rest of the elite starting pitchers on the market. Either way, the rotation must be addressed, and it is a higher priority than finding a second catcher. But if the Braves go the cost-efficient route with their starting pitching, Grandal becomes a more realistic possibility.
The Braves signing Brian McCann for only $2 million last season suggests that catcher may not be much of an economic priority for the team, and countless organizations have abandoned the position as a whole offensively in favor of defense. But if the dominos fall the right way, Grandal would be the perfect stopgap to Shea Langeliers on a multi-year deal. He is a guy to keep an eye on this winter and would make an already potent Braves lineup likely the best in the National League. It just does not make sense to go after him right out of the gate, given the other needs that need to be addressed.