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Certainly top prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith could be ready to step into the everyday catching position in 2019. But it’s very likely that they won’t be ready. Neither of them have appeared in the majors, and only one of the two young catchers have played above triple-A. Of course it goes without saying that the Dodgers absolutely can’t go with Austin Barnes as their primary catcher after he was one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2018.
If the Dodgers are in the market for a new catcher then the options available on the free agent market are slim. There are offensive first catchers like Jonathan Lucroy, Wilson Ramos, and Kurt Suzuki. However those guys are questionable defensively and none of them rank highly as pitch-framers. Suzuki and Ramos the two best hitting catchers are among the worst rated pitch-framers. The rest of the catchers are either backups or the exact opposite of the guys listed above. The all-glove and no bat guys like Jeff Mathis, or Bobby Wilson shouldn’t be considered. We already have one Austin Barnes; we don’t need another backstop who can’t hit.
Age and injury are also a concern. Stephen Vogt, another potential candidate on the market suffered a career threatening shoulder injury and missed the entire 2018 season. Veteran Brian McCann battled chronic knee problems this year before undergoing surgery. Nick Hundley is a decent hitter but a poor pitch-framer.
Rene Rivera registered as a plus pitch-framer but has never been much of a hitter. The rest of the options aren’t realistic. Perhaps the Dodgers could con the Marlins out of J.T. Realmuto? The cost for him would be quite high and probably involve top prospects in a potential swap. The Dodgers also still have Kyle Farmer, but they don’t think very highly of him and consider him third or fourth on the depth chart. The Dodgers could sign Ramos or Suzuki and those guys would be productive hitters. However both of them would have to learn the Dodgers pitching staff. Both of them are poor pitch-framers and neither are great defensively.
Perhaps the best course of action for the Dodgers would be to just bring back Yasmani Grandal. If Grandal does accept the qualifying offer than all of this becomes a moot point. If that happens then Grandal would be under contract for 2019 and be the Dodger’s primary catcher once again. If he doesn’t and does leave for another club via free agency, then the Dodgers are going to have figure out how to fill one of the most important positions on the diamond. What do you guys think? Should the Dodgers give the kids a chance? Should the Dodgers bring back Grandal? Or should the Dodgers bring in someone from outside the organization?