Yasmani Grandal’s name was discussed by Mets officials earlier in the offseason then largely buried to concentrate on other pursuits. But with two pieces close to falling into place, the team could be preparing to circle back toward the veteran catcher.
With the Winter Meetings set to begin a week from Monday in Las Vegas, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen — as he moves to complete a deal that will bring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in addition to reliever Gerson Bautista — will soon turn toward the team’s need behind the plate.
The trade with Seattle is expected to deduct money from the 2019 payroll, as Bruce and Swarzak are due a combined $22 million next season. The Mariners are also adding significant dollars to the deal that will help offset the $120 million Cano is owed over the next five years. Diaz still has not reached arbitration eligibility and will receive slightly above the major league minimum.
Grandal, 30, is the top free-agent catcher in a thin market that also includes names such as Wilson Ramos, Martin Maldonado and Jonathan Lucroy. A potential landing spot for Grandal disappeared in recent days, with the Nationals’ acquisition of Yan Gomes in a trade with the Indians.
The Mets had interest in Gomes, according to an industry source, and are still on the lookout for a potential trade that might net J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins. But that possibility will become slimmer once Kelenic and Dunn are dispatched to Seattle, diluting the Mets’ farm system.
Defense is the priority at catcher, and team officials are largely unimpressed with Ramos on that front. Maldonado is a premier defensive catcher, but is largely invisible with the bat. Even so, the Mets entered the offseason with the idea they will make a strong run at the 32-year-old Maldonado, but to this point discussions between the club and Maldonado’s agent, Scott Boras, haven’t materialized.
Grandal would give the Mets the best of both worlds: a quality defensive catcher — despite his lapses in the postseason that have been magnified — who is regarded as a top pitch-framer. He would also bring a potent bat to the equation: In 140 games with the Dodgers last season, Grandal slashed .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs. Grandal received a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, meaning the Mets would have to relinquish a draft pick to sign him.
The Mets have tendered a contract to Travis d’Arnaud, but could look to trade the often-injured catcher. Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido are the other Mets catchers under club control.
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