Brewers bolster lineup, agree to terms with former-Dodger Yasmani Grandal


Brewers bolster lineup, agree to terms with former-Dodger Yasmani Grandal

While the Cubs continue to sit on the sideline, the NL Central arms race keeps on moving along.

Wednesday night, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal have agreed to a one-year contract. The deal is pending a physical.

Fans might remember Grandal for his nightmare performance in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Brewers. That one game aside, the catcher is a solid addition that will bolster an already dangerous Brewers lineup.

Grandal, 30, has played in parts of seven MLB seasons — three with the Padres and four with the Dodgers. 2018 was one of his best seasons offensively; in 140 games (440 at-bats), Grandal delivered a .241/.349/.466 slash line.

Grandal's 24 home runs with 68 RBIs in 2018 are the second-best single-season totals that he has posted in his career (he hit 27 home runs with 72 RBIs in 2016). 

Adding Grandal is an immediate upgrade offensively to Milwaukee's catching depth. Combined, Brewers catchers delivered a .237/.294/.363 slash line in 2018, hitting 16 home runs with 52 RBIs. The group was led by 38-year-old Erik Kratz (.236/.280/.355, 203 at-bats) and Manny Piña (.252/.307/.395, 306 at-bats).

Adding Grandal will not come cheap for the Brewers. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the catcher will make $18.25 million next season. Only Ryan Braun ($19 million) will make more than Grandal for the Brewers in 2019.

The Brewers adding Grandal is yet another example of NL Central teams improving their rosters while the Cubs stay idle. This offseason has seen the Cardinals add All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and reliever Andrew Miller as well as the Reds acquiring Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.

Goldschmidt and Miller certainly will improve the 88-win Cardinals, and the 82-win Pirates are sure to cause problems for divisional foes. Puig and Kemp will not put the 67-win Reds over the top, though, and the Brewers are due for some regression in 2019 after nearly making the World Series.

The Cubs are coming off a 95-win season in which key players (Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow) missed extended time due to injury. The team struggled tremendously at the plate in the second half as well, so there is room for improvement next season.

Still, seeing the rest of the division improve while the Cubs stand by likely isn't an easy pill for fans to swallow. If one thing is certain, it's that the NL Central should be one of baseball's toughest divisions in 2019.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers


Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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