There was already plenty to like about the reported agreement between the Milwaukee Brewers and Yasmani Grandal, the top catcher and one of the top players overall on this year’s free agent market.
Now that the signing is official, there’s this news: it may not necessarily be a one-year deal.
Yasmani Grandal's deal with the Milwaukee Brewers is actually a one-year deal that includes a mutual 2020 option, league sources tell ESPN. The deal has a $16 million base and $2.25 million buyout on a $16 million option.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 14, 2019
Mutual options rarely, if ever, get exercised.
Jon Heyman originally reported the deal as a team option, which obviously would have been a bigger coup for Milwaukee, but Jeff Passan reported it was actually a mutual option, which was backed up by Ken Rosenthal.
Source confirms: Grandal’s option is indeed mutual option, as @JeffPassan said. Either side can back out.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 14, 2019
As we saw with Mike Moustakas and Joakim Soria, though, mutual options are almost never exercised. That’s because most times, if a player is playing well enough for a team to want to pick up that option, he’ll want to opt out and test free agency. If he plays poorly enough where he’d rather take the money in the option, the team likely wouldn’t want him back at that price.
It still seems like a safe assumption that this is virtually a one-year deal, but the mutual option is one of those things that it doesn’t really hurt to tack on, just in the odd chance both sides want a one-year reunion.
Grandal has every incentive to opt out and try again next winter, including no longer having the qualifying offer and draft pick loss weighing down his potential market. Recent changes to the CBA dictate a player can only be given a qualifying offer once in their career. If a switch to Miller Park helps his offensive numbers as much as some people think, he could be in line for that large multi-year deal he had hoped to get this winter, and it would be hard to talk him into taking that mutual option.