With just over 30 days left until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, the baseball offseason continues to give fans news every day. On Wednesday, the Brewers signed the top free agent catcher available, the Rangers are taking a chance on an oft-injured pitcher, and the Heisman Trophy winner may be spurning baseball after all. Here are the latest MLB news and notes.
Grandal, Brewers agree to deal
The Brewers stretched their budget and bolstered their lineup on Wednesday when they agreed to sign free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal. The deal is for one year at $18.25 million.
Grandal, 30, was projected as the offseason’s top catcher available. In the hopes of a long-term deal and more money, Grandal turned down a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, worth $17.9 million for one year. He then turned down a four-year contract offer from the Mets, reportedly worth $60 million. Ultimately, he heads to Milwaukee for more money this season at the cost of becoming a free agent again next offseason.
The veteran Grandal is known for his elite pitch framing, ranking within the top four in each of the last four seasons according to Statcorner. Offensively, he is one of the more consistent catchers in baseball. In 2018, Grandal hit .241/.349/.466 with 24 home runs and 68 RBIs. He has 113 career home runs over seven seasons with the Padres and Dodgers, and since 2014 his .792 OPS trails only Buster Posey and Willson Contreras among catchers.
The NL Central-champion Brewers will presumably make Grandal the starting catcher for the 2019 season. Last year behind the plate, Manny Pina and Erik Kratz handled most of the catching duties.
Rangers sign Shelby Miller
The Rangers, a team in desperate need of more pitching, are taking on a reclamation project. The team announced Wednesday they have agree to terms on a one-year, $2 million contract with free agent starting pitcher Shelby Miller.
Once considered one of baseball’s best pitching prospects, Miller broke out in his rookie season in 2013 with the Cardinals, going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. After two seasons, he was traded to the Braves where he would set career-bests in ERA, innings, and strikeouts. After just one year in Atlanta, the Diamondbacks traded for Miller in hopes he would become a long-term member of their rotation.
However, his tenure with Arizona was nothing short of disastrous. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA in 2016, his first season with the club. In the last two seasons, Miller was plagued by injuries, including Tommy John surgery, and only made a combined eight starts. Arizona chose to non-tender Miller after the 2018 season, making him a free agent.
The Rangers are hoping they can get Miller, 28, to re-discover his old form from St. Louis and Atlanta. Texas’ deal includes performance bonuses that can raise his salary all the way to $5 million. They will likely try him as a starter at first, since Miller’s only real bullpen experience was in his big league debut near the end of 2012.
A’s expect Murray to declare for NFL Draft
Torn between baseball and football, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Oklahoma quarterback and Athletics prospect Kyler Murray will spurn baseball and declare for the NFL Draft.
Last June, Murray was drafted 9th overall by Oakland in the MLB Draft. He signed a deal that included a $4.66 million signing bonus and allowed him to play one last season of football with Oklahoma before joining the A’s.
In his “final” season of football, Murray led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff and won the Heisman Trophy. Should he officially declare for the Draft, he is expected to be a first round pick.
Although Murray would have to return his signing bonus, the A’s would maintain his professional rights if he wants to return to baseball. However, Oakland would not receive any draft pick compensation in the event Murray officially announces he’s choosing football. Regardless of what sports he chooses, his decision must come soon, as Spring Training opens up next month.
The next MLB news and notes update may have some huge info regarding Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The market seems to be heating up for both of those players, with a decision for Machado in particular expected over the next week.