MLB: Dollar values of the best catchers

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 11: St. Louis Cardinals Catcher Yadier Molina (4) during a game between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on September 11, 2019 at Coors Field in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 11: St. Louis Cardinals Catcher Yadier Molina (4) during a game between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on September 11, 2019 at Coors Field in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Chicago White Sox
Milwaukee Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal  (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

7. Yasmani Grandal, Milwaukee Brewers, $2.344 million value; $16 million contract

Grandal was the third best-paid catcher in baseball in 2019 –behind only Buster Posey and Yadier Molina – and the only one of them to crack the top 10. Given the $3.9 million average salary for a MLB backstop in 2019, it’s no surprise that even a veteran catcher pulling in $15 million to $20 million will inevitably run afoul of the law of diminishing returns.

In fact, it’s a safe bet that neither the Giants, Cardinals nor Brewers expected Posey, Molina or Grandal to even approximate a logical return on investment. Their signings were designed to – in the cases of Molina and Posey – reward loyalty, and in all cases to placate fans while obtaining premium value, even if at an extremely premium price.

Offensively, Grandal didn’t really do that. His 2.5 WAR was above average, but that’s kind of expected for $16 million, isn’t it? In fact, it ranked only ninth among catchers in 2019, and justified just $1.936 million of his salary.

Behind the plate, Grandal was again only OK. His +1 defensive runs saved barely escaped the bottom third of his peers and valued out at just $38,000.

Grandal did excel at pitch framing, ranking fourth overall at 9 runs saved. If you rate pitch framing as a central component of catching, you love Grandal. Our formula allocates a 10 percent share to it, valuing it numerically at $370,000.