Grandal prioritized family, winning when signing with Brewers
MILWAUKEE — Asked why he agreed to a one-year deal with Milwaukee rather than multiyear offers from other teams, catcher Yasmani Grandal gave two simple reasons: the chance to win and family.
Grandal lives in Peoria, Arizona, not far from the Brewers‘ spring training camp.
“My wife told me: ‘You get to have spring training here and be with your kids a little more,'” Grandal said Tuesday, a day after his $18.25 million deal was announced. “I have a 14-month-old right now who’s running crazy around the house.”
Grandal’s deal includes a $16 million salary this year and a $16 million mutual option for 2020 with a $2.25 million buyout due Dec. 31. Grandal has until the third day after the World Series to decide on the option, and the Brewers have until the fifth day.
He spent the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won the last two NL pennants but lost in the World Series each time. The Brewers extended the Dodgers to Game 7 of last year’s NL Championship Series.
Brewers general manager David Stearns was content to go into spring training next month with the duo of Manny Pina and Erik Kratz along with prospect Jacob Nottingham. Then came the chance to sign the switch-hitting Grandal for a one-season commitment.
“He provides us an offensive force — a powerful force — in the middle of our lineup and he’s one of the best receivers in baseball,” Stearns said. “He handles a pitching staff exceptionally well.”
The 30-year-old Grandal hit .242 with an .815 OPS and 24 home runs last year, including 21 homers while batting left-handed.
Left-handed hitters have flourished at Miller Park — Christian Yelich became an All-Star, NL batting champion and NL MVP last year after he was acquired from Miami.
“I think about 85 percent of all major league ballparks would have been good for me, as long as it wasn’t Petco Park or Dodger Stadium,” Grandal joked. “I love hitting here. I love playing here. It’s going to be exciting being away from those pitcher-friendly ballparks.”
Grandal’s poor postseason may have impacted his market. He was just 2 for 11 with no RBIs in the NLCS, then went 1 for 5 with no RBIs in the World Series loss to Boston. Grandal also struggled defensively in the postseason with a number of untimely passed balls, though he had been considered a strong defender and pitch framer.
Milwaukee raised its payroll from a big league-low $68 million in 2017 to $108 million last year and could set a team record this year, topping 2014’s $110 million. Stearns credited Brewers owner Mark Attanasio for his willingness to increase the budget in pursuit of a championship.
“Mark encouraged us to pursue every avenue possible to improve this team throughout the offseason,” Stearns said. “As this opportunity became a possibility, Mark and this ownership group authorized us to stretch our resources beyond their normal constraints.”