The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a one-year contract with veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal, as baseball insider Francys Romero first reported. The deal, which is pending a physical, is for $2.5 million.
Grandal, 35, has spent 12 seasons in the big leagues after debuting with the San Diego Padres in 2012. He remained in San Diego through the 2014 season and was then traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he played for four years. The native of La Habana, Cuba spent 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers and played for the Chicago White Sox each of the last four seasons.
Grandal brings a solid track record to the Pirates. In his career, he’s slashed .237/.347/.426 with 185 home runs and 565 RBIs in 1,235 career games. He’s twice been selected as an All-Star, the first of which came in 2015 with the Dodgers and again in 2019.
While Grandal has good career statistics at the plate, he’s fallen on hard times of late. In 217 games the past two seasons, Grandal has combined for a .219/.305/.306 (71 OPS+) slash with 21 doubles, 13 home runs and 60 RBIs. His recent lackluster showing has come on the heels of a career-best .939 OPS with the White Sox in 2021.
Grandal had mixed results behind the plate last season. He was well-below par in terms of defensive runs saved (minus-11) and pop time (2.08 seconds). On the other hand, Grandal was in the 72nd-percentile in blocking and the 61st-percentile in pitch framing.
As it stands, Grandal looks like he should have the inside track to cracking the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day roster alongside fellow catcher Henry Davis. Ali Sánchez was signed to a split-contract and Jason Delay can still be optioned to the minor leagues.
In addition to catcher, Grandal has 95 games of experience in the big leagues at first base. As a switch-hitter, he offers manager Derek Shelton some flexibility in splitting time with Davis.
Prior to signing Grandal, the Pirates had interest in Gary Sánchez, who ultimately landed with the Milwaukee Brewers.