The New York Mets 2018 season is winding down with only 29 games left and I want to start talking about a key player that the new general manager should target this upcoming offseason, Yasmani Grandal.
Grandal, 29, is currently hitting .242/.350/.475 with 126 wRC+, 17 doubles, 22 homers and 60 RBI in 428 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The switch hitter ranks second among MLB qualified catchers this year with his 126 wRC+ and his 3.0 fWAR, he trails only J.T. Realmuto in both categories. It’s also his fourth straight season of posting at least a 2.0 fWAR.
Grandal isn’t just an offensive minded catcher though, his 13.6 Fielding Runs Above Average (Baseball Prospectus) ranks him third defensively this season behind only Max Stassi of the Astros and Jeff Mathis of the Diamondbacks.
As Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions pointed out last week, having gifted pitch framing catchers has coincided with overall team success in the majors this season (.578 winning percentage from top 6 framing teams) while poor framing catchers (Mets included) have been on some of baseball’s worst teams this season (.439 winning % from bottom 7 teams).
The strong defensive season from Grandal is no fluke either, he ranked fourth among 111 catchers in 2017, second among 104 catchers in 2016 and led all major league catchers with his 25.6 FRAA in 2015.
The best the Mets have to offer defensively that’s currently under contract is Travis d’Arnaud (10th in 2017, 17th in 2016, 13th in 2015) though he has missed significant time again in 2018 and is a possible non-tender candidate this offseason.
Back to the offensive side where Grandal has never posted a wRC+ under 100 in his major league career and has a slash line of .240/.341/.442 over 2570 plate appearances.
D’Arnaud is a non-tender candidate after playing only 15 games this year and Mesoraco is a pending free agent leaving the Mets with Nido and Plawecki as MLB catching options. While Plawecki is finishing up a solid season (.732 OPS, 1.5 WAR) he would be better served as a second catcher and Grandal would be an significant consistent upgrade defensively and offensively.
The Mets are also likely limited in the positions they will be able to upgrade this winter given current projected starters. Todd Frazier at third base, Amed Rosario at shortstop, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto in two outfield spots and Jay Bruce at either first base or right field. Jeff McNeil has also put his name into the hat for starting second baseman next season.
So where are the position(s) for an obvious upgrade? I’m certainly hoping the Mets are thinking catcher and Yasmani Grandal.