Deep Dive: free-agent catchers

Mere formality: Yasmani Grandal will be easily the top free agent catcher in this year’s market when he opts out of his current contract with the Brewers. (@Yazmaniandvl08)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

James McCann had a great year offensively, but aside from his leadership and game-calling skills he isn’t the strongest catcher defensively. The problem with finding an able replacement is that after Yasmani Grandal, there’s a huge drop-off among available catchers.

McCann will be a free agent after the 2020 season, so expect the White Sox to pursue Grandal in order to pursue a longer-term option who’s good on both sides of the ball. If unable to sign Grandal, the White Sox have three offensive-minded catchers who will try to earn their way to a backup role on the club with a great spring training: Zack Collins, Yermín Mercedes and Seby Zavala. If the White Sox view each of them simply as DH options (and the White Sox don’t sign Grandal), it’s possible that the White Sox will opt to sign a defensive-minded backstop instead.

Below is the list of this year’s available free agent catchers, in order of WARP since Baseball Prospectus goes more in-depth with catcher defense.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Yasmani Grandal
Milwaukee Brewers
B/T B/R
2019 WARP 6.1 (2019 bWAR: 2.5, 2019 fWAR: 5.2)
Stats .246/.380/.468, 513 AB, 26 2B, 28 HR, 77 RBI, 109 BB, 139 K, 5 SB
Other positions played First base
Age 31

Grandal absolutely will buy his $16 million mutual option for 2020 out for $2.5 million buyout. He is not eligible to receive a qualifying offer.

Robinson Chirinos
Houston Astros
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 2.6 (2019 bWAR: 3.8, 2019 fWAR: 2.3)
Stats .238/.347/.443, 366 AB, 22 2B, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 51 BB, 125 K, 1 SB
Age 35

Jason Castro
Minnesota Twins
B/T L/R
2019 WARP 1.9 (2019 bWAR: 0.7, 2019 fWAR: 1.6)
Stats .232/.332/.435, 237 AB, 9 2B, 13 HR, 30 RBI, 33 BB, 88 K, 0 SB
Age 32

Travis d’Arnaud
Tampa Bay Rays
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 1.4 (2019 bWAR: 1.0, 2019 fWAR: 1.6)
Stats .251/.312/.433, 351 AB, 16 2B, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 30 BB, 80 K, 0 SB
Age 31

Tyler Flowers
Atlanta Braves
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 1.4 (2019 bWAR: -0.1, 2019 fWAR: 2.1)
Stats .229/.319/.413, 271 AB, 11 2B, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 31 BB, 105 K, 0 SB
Age 34

The Braves have a $6 million club option on Flowers, which can be bought out for $2 million.

Yan Gomes
Washington Nationals
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 1.3 (2019 bWAR: 1.3, 2019 FWAR: 0.8)
Stats .223/.316/.389, 314 AB, 16 2B, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 38 BB, 84 K, 2 SB
Other positions played First base
Age 32

Washington has a $9 million club option on Gomes, which can be bought out for $1 million.

Russell Martin
Los Angeles Dodgers
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 1.2 (2019 bWAR: 0.8, 2019 fWAR: 1.2)
Stats .220/.337/.330, 209 AB, 5 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 30 BB, 60 K, 1 SB
Other positions played Third base
Age 37

Alex Avila
Arizona Diamondbacks
B/T L/R
2019 WARP 1.0, 2019 bWAR: 1.4, 2019 fWAR: 1.3
Stats .207/.353/.421, 164 AB, 8 2B, 9 HR, 24 RBI, 36 BB, 68 K, 1 SB
Age 33

Austin Romine
New York Yankees
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 0.6 (2019 bWAR: 0.8, 2019 fWAR: 0.9)
Stats .281/.310/.439, 228 AB, 12 2B, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 10 BB, 50 K, 1 SB
Age 31

Martin Maldonado
Houston Astros
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 0.6 (2019 bWAR: 1.4, 2019 fWAR: 0.8)
Stats .213/.293/.378, 333 AB, 19 2B, 12 HR, 27 RBI, 32 BB, 86 K, 0 SB
Age 33

Francisco Cervelli
Atlanta Braves
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 0.3 (2019 bWAR: 0.2, 2019 fWAR: 0.1)
Stats .213/.302/.348, 141 AB, 8 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 13 BB, 41 K, 1 SB
Other positions played First base
Age 34

Matt Wieters
St. Louis Cardinals
B/T B/R
2019 WARP 0.0 (2019 bWAR: 0.5, 2019 fWAR: -0.3)
Stats .214/.268/.435, 168 AB, 4 2B, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 12 BB, 47 K, 1 SB
Age 33

Chris Iannetta
Colorado Rockies
B/T R/R
2019 WARP 0.0 (bWAR: -0.4, fWAR -0.5)
Stats .222/.311/.417, 144 AB, 10 2B, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 18 BB, 54 K, 0 SB
Age 36

Jonathan Lucroy
Chicago Cubs
B/T R/R
2019 WARP -0.2 (2019 bWAR: -1.0, 2019 fWAR: -0.5)
Stats .232/.305/.355, 293 AB, 10 2B, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 27 BB, 51 K, 0 SB
Other positions played First base
Age 33

Nick Hundley
Philadelphia Phillies
B/T R/R
2019 WARP -0.3 (2019 bWAR: -0.4, fWAR: -0.3)
Stats .200/.233/.357, 70 AB, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 18 K, 0 SB
Age 36

Welington Castillo
Chicago White Sox
B/T R/R
2019 WARP -1.3 (2019 bWAR: -0.2, fWAR: -1.0)
Stats .209/.267/.417, 230 AB, 12 2B, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 16 BB, 74 K, 0 SB
Age 32

The White Sox hold an $8 million club option on Castillo that will most assuredly be bought out for $500,000.


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katiesphil
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katiesphil
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Well then. Grandal or bust.

Peter M
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Peter M
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Grandal/ McCann would be great. If not, then McCann/Maldonado