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Thursday, November 21, 2019

White Sox Sign Yasmani Grandal

He’ll be guaranteed a hefty $73MM, the team announced, which will be paid out evenly at $18.25MM per year.

4-year contract. Could this be the first move of a busy off-season for Chicago?

Is there a tiny chance they make a huge splash and get Cole or Strasburg?

Nasty Nate Posted: November 21, 2019 at 12:21 PM | 41 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: white sox

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   1. The Duke Posted: November 21, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5902968)
Smart signing by the Sox
   2. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 21, 2019 at 12:50 PM (#5902970)
What's wrong with James McCann?

They seem like they need a 2B, and OF or two - plus a 1B/DH bat depending/even if Abreu more than they do a catcher...
   3. asinwreck Posted: November 21, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5902971)
This was the single move I most hoped they would make, and at $7 million less than I figured he would get.
   4. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 21, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5902974)
Certainly a risk to signing a catcher on the wrong side of 30, but Grandal has been about as good as you can reasonably hope a catcher to be. (That's not to say that he's been the best catcher or anything like that, but consistently above average is about all you can reasonably hope for.)
   5. Mark Edward Posted: November 21, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5902976)
What's wrong with James McCann?

They seem like they need a 2B, and OF or two - plus a 1B/DH bat depending/even if Abreu more than they do a catcher...


McCann's probably not gonna repeat his 2018. Either way he'll probably get a lot of AB's at DH. Depending on what else happens the rest of this off-season, they'll probably roll with 3 catchers next year (Grandal, McCann, Zach Collins).

As for 2B, Nick Madrigal should be up by May or so.

For the outfield, like Madrigal Luis Robert should be up sometime soon after Opening Day; he'll play center.

They definitely still need another outfielder and probably 2 starting pitchers but this is a very good start.

   6. JRVJ Posted: November 21, 2019 at 01:10 PM (#5902980)
Good for Grandal.

There were reports that last year the ChiSox tried to sign Machado and Harper, but they couldn't land either. This signing at least means that they are serious about augmenting their franchise, and may mean they go for another elite FA.

And the best thing is that Grandal only costs money, since there was no draft pick / international FA money compensation attached to him.
   7. DCA Posted: November 21, 2019 at 02:18 PM (#5902999)
What's wrong with James McCann?

Nothing, he'll be fine starting twice a week vs LHP.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: November 21, 2019 at 02:40 PM (#5903006)
His twitter handle is "Yazmanian Devil." That's pretty good.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2019 at 03:11 PM (#5903015)
even if Abreu

Sorry if I mis-parsed that but Abreu has already accepted the QO so they've got him for 2020.
   10. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 21, 2019 at 03:23 PM (#5903017)
Sorry if I mis-parsed that but Abreu has already accepted the QO so they've got him for 2020.


You parsed right.

I wasn't aware of that.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5903020)
Here's a list of Grandal career comps I came up with. The future of this set is not bright. Posada did great from 31-34 (18 WAR). Javy Lopez, the always outlying Downing and Haller did well with 11-14 WAR. We can also add VMart who put up 8 WAR despite missing all of age 33 (and had a huge age 35). Assuming reasonable health, any of those guys is worth this contract pretty easily. The other 13 guys though topped out at 3 WAR.

Now that was a quick list I put together a while ago and it's (probably) unfair in that some of these guys would have dropped off by age 30 already while Grandal has kept going strong so he's already separated himself from them. So I first generate a list of Cs 27-30 (min 300 games caught) with 9-12 WAR -- 22 players with Grandal at #8. I then subset that to guys who put up at least 1.5 WAR at age 30 reducing it to 16 with Grandal at 12 of 16. Here it is.

This is his DESTINY! Burgess is another outlying comp and not exactly applicable to today's game. But Marting, Kendall, Daulton and VMart would all be good results for this contract. The middle set there wouldn't be disasters but suggest the contract is a year too long. The last 6 guys would be a pretty bad result.

There are probably things the Sox can do to make the top outcomes more likely -- more time at 1B/DH would probably help. I'll wildly speculate Grandal had something like a 3/$57 offer from somebody else and the Sox had to go the extra bit to land him. Likely an overpay but not a big one -- probably worth it to show fans they're serious and try to make some noise over the next 2-3 years.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: November 21, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5903021)
Grandal is supposed to be a pitch framing genius, right?
   13. Bug Selig Posted: November 21, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5903036)
What's wrong with James McCann?
His 2.3 WAR last year brought his career total to 2.2.
   14. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: November 21, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5903046)
Good luck Yaz. Your days with the Crew were awesome.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2019 at 06:15 PM (#5903051)
Grandal is supposed to be a pitch framing genius, right?

It seems so. And that might have been true for some of the middle guys in that table I posted too -- at least Demspey and Scioscia had good defensive reps as I recall. Adding something like 3 WAR over 4 years to any of those guys moves them into the break-even category for this contract. Similarly the top of that table, if somebody like Martin or Kendall (the most obvious candidates) added wins by framing, there's potential for substantial excess value. I guess the "downside" in good framing is that you'll want him behind the plate (not 1B/DH) as much as possible which might reduce his long-term durability and/or lead to a quicker decline of his bat. (Yes, a player so good you're tempted to play him "too much" is a nice problem to have.)

Of course the opposite could be true. VMart got mostly moved off of C at 32 so he probably wasn't any good at it. I really don't recall Daulton's defense much less his "pitcher handling" but if he was giving back half-a-win a year or more through bad framing then he slips towards "1 year too long" territory.
   16. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 21, 2019 at 06:19 PM (#5903052)
He’ll be guaranteed a hefty $73MM

That's...a lotta money for 6 WAR, which is the average of the players listed in #11. But Pudge came to the Tigers in '04 at age 32 and led them to a pennant two years later. (Of course, he was (a) friggin' Ivan Rodriguez and (b) catching the best pitching staff in the major leagues that year.)
   17. Walt Davis Posted: November 21, 2019 at 10:32 PM (#5903085)
I also saw a headline that this is the "biggest" deal in White Sox history. I don't know if that's total $ or AAV ... surely the Big Hurt's 10-year deal (or whatever) topped $73 M???

That's...a lotta money for 6 WAR, which is the average of the players listed in #11.

Yep, that's the one year (and maybe more) too long group. But the comp list is still pretty quick and dirty. For example Lopata -- who I don't think I'd ever heard of -- was a darn good hitter for a C but was really only a part-time during this period. The low cut-off for Gs at C that I set picks up some guys like that -- I didn't want to miss anybody who may have missed a season for injury.

C is a tough position to project. Earl Battey was really good from 25-30 -- 17 WAR, 7 WAA -- then lost 30 points of OPS+ in one season and was a disaster at 32 and never played again. Stearns was only a part-timer 28-30 but really, really good -- and then nothing after 30. Romano put up a 122 OPS+ and 2.5 WAR at 31 then was a complete disaster at 32 and done.

Kennedy probably isn't a fair comp -- his bat had already fallen off considerably and he wasn't that good for 28-30. Dempsey is iffy too because he wasn't much of a hitter (not bad for a C) and his value is defense. But Scioscia actually had a nice resurgence at 30-32, then collapsed. Ferguson was pretty good at 31-32 then just half-time and then strictly back-up. Semnick is another I'd never heard of but he held it together pretty well but only at about 90 starts a year. Bailey also held it together pretty well but was just a half-timer.

If I had to guess, I'd guess Grandal has a better chance of being towards the top-end than the bottom. What surprised me more is that Grandal's age 27-30 performance (pitch framing aside) wasn't that unusual. For the integration era, his 10.7 WAR is just 35th. Nothing to sneeze at obviously but not eye-popping. That's less than Ramon Hernandez, about 4 WAR worse than Tettleton, 5.5 worse than Chris Hoiles, barely half of Posey. A little below Pena, Semnick, Bailey, Semnick, Lopata, Kendall and Battey ... just ahead of Charles Johnson, Daulton, Dietz, Romano, Jody Davis, Russell Martin, Miguel Montero.

I made that first short list by looking just at Cs in the 9-12 WAR range. That's a pretty narrow range for me to look at but that's because rarely would I find so many players within such a narrow range. Push it up to 13 to make it WAR-symmetric doesn't change things much -- Haller good, Westrum and Pena not so much. Push it up one more and you get Posada (great), Freehan (solid) and Ramon Hernandez (3 WAR). Going down to 8 WAR definitely makes things worse for him.

Cs can fall fast and, at least for his good but not outstanding group, when the fall comes seems pretty random.
   18. Buck Coats Posted: November 22, 2019 at 07:58 AM (#5903097)
looks like Frank Thomas' contract was 7 years/$64.4M
   19. asinwreck Posted: November 22, 2019 at 08:03 AM (#5903099)
   20. PreservedFish Posted: November 22, 2019 at 08:52 AM (#5903102)
Albert Belle signed for 5 years, $55M.

His White Sox contract had an unusual clause allowing him to demand that he would remain one of the three highest paid players in baseball. In October 1998 he invoked the clause, and when the White Sox declined to give him a raise he immediately became a free agent. He again became the game's highest paid player, signing a five-year, $65 million ($97,759,688 today) deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
   21. PreservedFish Posted: November 22, 2019 at 08:52 AM (#5903103)
If I recall, BPro once had Grandal ranked as basically the most valuable player in the NL because his pitch framing was adding like 4 wins.
   22. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 22, 2019 at 09:08 AM (#5903106)
Jose Abreu's original 2013 contract was 6 years, $68 million, which was then the biggest contract for an international free agent and also the biggest contract for a White Sok.
   23. JL72 Posted: November 22, 2019 at 09:47 AM (#5903114)
probably worth it to show fans they're serious and try to make some noise over the next 2-3 years.


It also won't hurt with other potential free agents as evidence that the White Sox are serious and signing there won't mean being mediocre in the worst division in baseball.
   24. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 22, 2019 at 10:11 AM (#5903123)
C is a tough position to project. Earl Battey was really good from 25-30 -- 17 WAR, 7 WAA -- then lost 30 points of OPS+ in one season and was a disaster at 32 and never played again. Stearns was only a part-timer 28-30 but really, really good -- and then nothing after 30. Romano put up a 122 OPS+ and 2.5 WAR at 31 then was a complete disaster at 32 and done.

Not that hard: most catchers, even good-hitting ones, tend to drive off the cliff at (or around) age 32. (It's a tough way to make a living.)
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2019 at 10:28 AM (#5903128)
His White Sox contract had an unusual clause allowing him to demand that he would remain one of the three highest paid players in baseball. In October 1998 he invoked the clause, and when the White Sox declined to give him a raise he immediately became a free agent. He again became the game's highest paid player, signing a five-year, $65 million ($97,759,688 today) deal with the Baltimore Orioles.


That opt-out really bit the White Sox in the ass.

BTW, was that the first opt out? Probably not, but I don't recall an earlier one.
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: November 22, 2019 at 10:35 AM (#5903130)
If I am reading it right, that seems more similar to a team declining an option - they could have kept Belle at a higher salary. Given that he immediately signed a bigger deal, it seems like they mis-read the market and should have kept him and traded him if they didn't want to pay, unless there are other details that I don't know.

edit: actually seems like a combo of an opt-out and a team option, because if his contract was an albatross he wouldn't have invoked the clause.
   27. cookiedabookie Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5903142)
most catchers, even good-hitting ones, tend to drive off the cliff at (or around) age 32


If they keep McCann, and do more of a time share with Grandal getting 40-60 games at DH, that could extend his window of usefulness.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:32 AM (#5903146)
If they keep McCann, and do more of a time share with Grandal getting 40-60 games at DH, that could extend his window of usefulness.

Of course that really reduces Grandal's value, especially if he is an elite framer.

Last year Grandal started 124 games at C and 16 at 1B. If you shift him to 90 G at C and 55 at DH, that's a lot of lost defensive value.
   29. The Duke Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5903152)
Grandal says about astros “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying “ which has to be the stupidest comment by a ballplayer in a while. There were already a lot of rumors that the brewers were involved in the cheating issues. This basically confirms it
   30. Gary Truth Serum Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5903153)
Sorry if I mis-parsed that but Abreu has already accepted the QO so they've got him for 2020.

You parsed right.

I wasn't aware of that.

And now the White Sox have signed Abreu to a 3 year/$75 million contract.
   31. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5903155)
3/$50m, right?
(5m bonus, 11m next year, 16m in '21, 18m in '22 (with 4m deferred))
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5903157)
3/$50m, right?
(5m bonus, 11m next year, 16m in '21, 18m in '22 (with 4m deferred))


Effectively it's a 2/32 extensive. He was already signed to the QO, and this overwrites that.
   33. filihok Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5903184)
And now the White Sox have signed Abreu to a 3 year/$75 million contract.


Two steps forward, one step back?
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5903188)
And now the White Sox have signed Abreu to a 3 year/$75 million contract.

Two steps forward, one step back?


It's not 3/75. It's 2/32 added to the existing 1/18 QO.
   35. Gary Truth Serum Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:41 PM (#5903203)
Correct, it's $50 million. I had $75 million in my head and couldn't get it out.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 22, 2019 at 01:45 PM (#5903206)
Correct, it's $50 million. I had $75 million in my head and couldn't get it out.

Of which $18M was already spent.
   37. bfan Posted: November 22, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5903300)
So a team in need of young catching help should be knocking on the door of the White Sox, because Zack Collins (who is almost 25 now and will be 30 when the white sox start a season without Grandal under contract) best professional years will now be sitting behind Grandal?

The Braves, who can dangle some young starting pitching, would be a logical caller.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: November 22, 2019 at 07:22 PM (#5903328)
Not that hard: most catchers, even good-hitting ones, tend to drive off the cliff at (or around) age 32.

Except when you sign a guy to a "big" contract that covers ages 31-34, "around age 32" doesn't help you much. I think the lists I provided show this pretty well. Battey pretty much collapsed immediately. Ed Bailey produced at an above-average rate (in limited time) for each of his age 31-33 seasons then cliff-dove at 34. Freehan had one very good season, two average-plus seasons ... then cliff-dove at 34. Daulton was very good but had trouble staying healthy (missed basically all of age 34). Jason Kendall's bat collapsed at 31 but, per Rfield, his defense jumped and he remained above-average through 34.

So Battey's a "disaster" for this contract, Bailey is sub-optimal but not terrible (and Grandal likely to get more PT), Freehan and Kendall are worth it, maybe even a slight reward ... and Posada (18 WAR) would be a huge return.

And as I mentioned, that process looks pretty random to me. Guys who were a bit better than Grandal seemed as likely to survive as not; guys who looked a bit worse seemd as likely to survive as not. A couple of the guys at the lower end for 31-34 maybe shouldn't have been included which would improve the projection for Grandal.

If you take all of the Cs who played at least 110 games at average or better at age 30 and look at them at 31-34 ...

There are 47 such beasties. About 30% are disasters, about 35% are sub-optimal, about 15% are what you paid for, about 15% are a small return and about 5% are a nice return. That suggests it's probably a year too long or slightly too much money but doesn't look bad by FA contract standards. (And that's assuming a relatively constant $8 M per WAR; if there is some inflation then the deal looks better.)

And it is a tough position but Grandal hasn't been particularly heavily-used. Through age 30, expansion era, he's 41st in PA among players who played at least 75% at C. That's slightly fewer PA than Fisk had, only slightly more than Downing had ... but of course also close to lots of guys who didn't age well (though most of them had never been as good as Grandal anyway). It's a LOT less time than Kendall or Freehan, about 1.5-2 seasons less time than Russell Martin and any of those would be a perfectly fine outcome for Grandal.

Grandal would seem to have all of the advantages for aging well -- he hits well for his position, he fields well for his position, he doesn't have much of an injury history, he hasn't been heavily used (possibly only an apparent advantage for Cs). He can suffer a decline, maybe even a collapse, in any one of those dimensions and still satisfy this contract. That's what makes the apparent randomness (or my lack of attention) an issue -- it's not clear to me that a C with these advantages does age better.

So what I hope is my final run at a comp list. Through age 30, PA between 2500 and 4000, 75% games at C, positive career WAA:

That produces 42 players with Grandal at #20 by WAR so that's looking pretty good. The list ranges from Slaught at about 9 WAR in 2600 PA to Fisk with 35 WAR in 3500 PA or, more realistically, Sanguillen at 22 in 3500. Sal Perez and Realmuto are the only two current players who've made the list short of age 30. Now let's trim this list further by trying to get rid of anybody who was already in deep trouble at age 30 by requriing at least 100 games at C and WAA>=-0.4. This cuts the list to 23 Cs and Grandal has dropped to 17th on the list by WAA.

Starting with the bigger list, about half of them are in trouble immediately, about 25% would be sub-optimal but clustered more towards the bottome end of that, and then about 20% satisfy the contract and 5% exceed it. A couple of new successful names pop up in Steinbach, Tettleton and Slaught.

Looking at the shorter list, it's more optimistic at 1/3 bad, 1/3 sub-optimal, 25% fine and 9% exceed. Among the 6 players behind Grandal on the short list, one exceeded (Javy Lopez at 14 WAR), one was fine (Slaught at 9), one was clearly sub-optimal but not nothing (Kennedy 4 and healthy) and 3 were rubbish. Using the same WAR range, we can take the 3 just ahead of him which gives us one bad (Jason Castro with 2 years to go) and two of the better sub-optimals (Suzuki and Sanguillen).

So we still end up with the same story. Our best guess is probably around 6-7 WAR which is a couple of WAR short of what we want which makes it a year too long. But there doesn't seem to be any extra information in the shape of his particular performance -- it seems that a C almost anywhere in that list is about as likely to exceed or fail as Grandal is.

Of note, Fisk was solid but not great for ages 31-34 with just 11 WAR. He was by far at the top of the big list and he was second in WAA at age 30 (Daulton) but for 31-34 he was much worse than Posada and Lopez, a little worse than Tettleton and Steinbach, only a little better than Haller. Not that it matters for this contract but he had 11 seasons and 23 WAR left in him, including 4.9 WAR at 42.
   39. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 22, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5903340)
1/3 bad, 1/3 sub-optimal, 25% fine and 9% exceed

Well, that's two-to-one against, ain't it? Well, maybe the White Sox will make out OK with this deal. (As a fan of another team in the same division, I sure hope not.)
   40. Walt Davis Posted: November 26, 2019 at 03:01 PM (#5904070)
Well, that's two-to-one against, ain't it?

Yeah, the deal is probably a year too long, especially from a strict WAR/$ perspective. How "bad" depends somewhat on the Sox perspective and beliefs about where they are right now. If they think they're ready to step up to competitive, then 5-6 WAR from Grandal over the next two years can be enough to justify the contract even if he produces 0 WAR in the last two years. There's also the mystery framing component or other aspects of Grandal's defense not captured in bWAR. He's credited with 8 bWAR over the last 3 years but if we added in framing then (as I understand his ratings), he was actually worth something like 11-12 wins. That would probably add something like 2-3 wins to his 31-34 projection meaning the 4th year was probably reasonable.
   41. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 26, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5904111)
I like it. the Sox could be interesting for the first time in 10 years.

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