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Yasmani Grandal to Brewers - Fantasy Impact

The news broke on Thursday that Yasmani Grandal is headed to the Milwaukee Brewers on a one-year, $18 million contract. This is evidence of yet another move from the Brewers to go all in on their current squad. This trade takes one of the Brewers' two weakest offensive positions and turns it into a legitimate strength for this team.

The question is, what are the fantasy effects of this trade? Not just for Grandal himself but for the catching situation he leaves behind in Los Angeles. There is also the implication on the long-term fantasy value of the Brewers own prospects, and whether the arrival of Grandal affects the value of the other Brewers players. As a catcher that is not just the hitting side of the team but also what it means for the pitchers.

Let's take a look at what we might expect from Grandal in Milwaukee and how the dominoes fall into place.

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The Right Place for Power?

Grandal has nearly always flashed the ability to hit for power. He hit eight home tunes in half a season in his rookie campaign. He then had 31 home runs across his 2014 and 2015. Then the power breakout came. In 2016, Grandal hit 27 homes runs. He then backed that up with 22 in 2017 and 24 in 2018. So that is an average of 24.33 home runs in the last three years, and now he is getting a park factor boost in his new home. In each of the last three years his ISO has consistently sat above .200 and his hard hit rate has been the highest of his career the last three seasons.

The down point you have to accept with Grandal is his batting average. He has not hit above .250 in any of the last six years, and four times he has hit below .235. The last two years he has shown improvement, with batting averages of .247 and .241. However, if you play in formats which reward on-base skills then that downside can be somewhat limited.

I struggle to see how this deal is bad in any way for Grandal. He goes to a better park for his skill set as a hitter and arguably has a similar level of hitting talent around him. I can see Grandal putting up another 20-plus home run season and backing that up with somewhere around 110-125 combined runs and RBI.

 

Dodgers Fallout

I was all prepared to talk about value boost for either Austin Barnes or Keibert Ruiz here but then the Dodgers went and traded for Russell Martin. To me, the situation in Los Angeles just became a do-not-touch and walk away as quickly as possible situation.

Long term, both have solid value as Martin is in the last year of his deal. Ruiz demonstrated the ability to hit for power last year in the minors, and therefore for fantasy purposes he has the best long term outlook in that team. Barnes has hit for just 12 home runs in the last two years and saw massive regression in batting average last season. In fact, when you look at the rest of Barnes' major league career, the 2017 batting average looks to be the anomaly.

 

Effect on the Brewers

Manny Pina would have been an interesting name if he had received the chance to be an everyday catcher. Last year he had nine home runs in 337 plate appearances. However, the more exciting prospect was Jacob Nottingham. In just 196 plate appearances at Triple-A in 2018, Nottingham hit 10 runs and had a .281 batting average. It would have been interesting to see how that would have translated into the majors this season. For dynasty purposes, this is a one year contract for Grandal, and Nottingham may be handed the keys to the Brewers catcher position next season.

There is an effect on the main five Brewers hitters as this signing turns an offensive question mark into an offensive plus. Grandal will instantly become one of the best offensive catchers in the league. That added offense and the potential for him to clear the fences should boost some of the counting stats, especially for those hitting directly above him in the order. This signing has minimal effects on Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, who will hit atop the batting order. However, for Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Ryan Braun they should all see the chance for more runs for having the extra hitting of Grandal behind them.

The effect on Orlando Arcia is less clear. On one hand, this has probably bumped him a position in the lineup and will take plate appearances away from him. On the other hand, Grandal is good at getting on base and it should give Arcia more chance to hit with a man on first than he might have had if hitting behind another catcher.

 

What About the Pitchers?

Grandal looked very lost behind the plate in the playoffs last season. He did not look much better at the plate and when running the bases either, it was a complete mess. Grandal has led the league in passed balls three times in his career, which is less than ideal. However, what negatives he contributes there, are countered by his fairly impressive pitch framing skills. For a staff with mixed talents, the pitch framing of Grandal can only be a bonus. The passed balls are an issue in terms of potentially extending pitchers outings and putting them in worse situations with men on base. However, this signing does not affect the pitchers that significantly that is should alter any of their fantasy values entering draft season.

 

Conclusion

If you are Grandal owner this is a big win for me. He is getting a park upgrade and not even taking that big of a hit in lineup talent surrounding him. Obviously, if you own Nottingham then this is a setback, especially if you were relying on him n 2019. However, long term Nottingham should be the number one in Milwaukee. Therefore, this feels like a nice one-year situation to own Grandal. Nothing motivates more than a one year prove it deal. This signing should see Grandal move up close to the top five in catcher rankings this season.

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