Yasmani Grandal could be the difference between making and missing the playoffs for the New York Mets in 2020.
The New York Mets do not have many major holes on their team apart from the bullpen. However, some positions could use some upgrades.
The catching position is one of those positions.
Wilson Ramos did not have a terrible season on the surface in 2019 but when a closer look is taken, warts arise. The biggest issues with Ramos are his defense and the regression in extra-base power. Ramos has also had trouble staying healthy throughout his career and even though he played 141 games in 2019, the odds of him doing that again in 2020 are slim.
Ramos was horrendous in terms of his defensive ability in 2019, throwing out only 15% of would-be base stealers, which is well below the 26% league average. In addition, Ramos was near the bottom of the league in framing runs saved, which is the number of runs that are saved by framing pitches.
The other big issue with Ramos is that extra-base power was almost nonexistent in 2019. Even though Ramos had a respectable offensive line, .288/.351/.416, it goes deeper than that.
In 2019, Ramos had a total of 136 hits, but 103 of them were singles. Doing the math, this means that Ramos only had 33 extra-base hits total. In a season where everyone is hitting home runs like they are going out of style; Ramos did not follow suit.
This is a problem and it needs to be corrected for the Mets to be a serious playoff contender in 2020.
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Ramos can probably garner a back-end top 30 prospect from a team that needs a veteran catcher. A team like the Texas Rangers could use Ramos’ services and could part with a fringe prospect for him while taking on all of Ramos’ salary.
The salary aspect is key. For the Mets to upgrade, the team acquiring Ramos needs to take all $9.5M he is owed so the Mets can repurpose that money to upgrade at the position.
Yasmani Grandal is the only free agent catcher that the Mets should think of acquiring to upgrade the position and it could turn out to be the single most pivotal signing the Mets make in order to push them to be serious World Series contenders.
Grandal brings so much to the table that would help the Mets in many ways it’s hard to mention it all. First and foremost, Grandal’s defense is one of the best in baseball. He recorded approximately 20.1 framing runs which ranks top three in all of baseball. This would greatly help the Mets’ biggest strength, their pitching staff.
By having a catcher that can frame pitches at a high level and steal some borderline strikes, the pitchers will all benefit in more ways than one. In addition, Grandal is an above-average thrower, catching 27% of would-be base stealers. This would undoubtedly help the Mets starters that struggle with holding runners on base such as Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
Another part of Grandal’s game that will be an improvement is his ability to hit in crucial situations. Three situations classify as crucial, 2-outs with runners in scoring position, late and close, and high leverage. Grandal’s OPS in these situations are .875,.879, and .965 respectively.
The title of this article says that Grandal is a pivotal free agent that the Mets must add and earlier a statement was made that Grandal could be the difference between the Mets being serious World Series contenders and not. This is not just conjecture, there is legitimate statistical data to back up these claims showing that Grandal is a much better catcher than Ramos and would help this team in many ways more than Ramos would.
In 2019, the Mets won 86 games with Ramos as their catcher. He finished 2019 with a 1.4 fWAR. Yasmani Grandal in 2019 had a 5.1 fWAR. It is not as simple as saying that if Ramos is replaced with Grandal in 2019 the Mets finish with three to four more wins in 2019, but there is a large difference between the value of the two catchers.
The Mets and Grandal had mutual interest last offseason but a deal could not come to be. The Mets should re-visit that deal this offseason, something in the ballpark of three years for $15M per year seems fair.
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It could be the difference between a deep playoff run or an early exit. If they make it there at all.