Here’s something interesting to ponder as we head into the long dark cold winter. Andy McCullough of the LATimes is reporting that the Dodgers could be contemplating trading switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal this offseason. I know some of you are not very high on Grandal so this would make sense to a lot of you. However I don’t see much of a reason to do it unless the Dodgers could get reasonable value back for him. It would also thin out the Dodger’s catching depth. But with the emergence of Austin Barnes and Grandal’s disappearance during the Dodger’s October World Series run makes me wonder if this could actually be a possibility.
The 28-year old backstop caught 117 games behind the dish for the Dodgers in 2017 while battling hand and back injuries. In 2016 Grandal blasted 27 home runs and posted an .816 OPS. During the 2016 campaign he slashed .228/.339/.477 with a 118 OPS+. This season we saw Grandal’s batting and on-base skills dip somewhat as he posted a .247/.308/.459 slash line in 482 plate appearances. Grandal played in 129 games this season and slugged 22 home runs with 58 runs batted in.
There is some worrisome decline from last season to this year. Last year he walked 64 times and reached base at a .339 clip. This season saw his walk rate decline significantly as he drew just 40 walks and posted a .308 OBP. His walk rate dipped while his strikeout rate and swinging-strike rates all increased. Perhaps most concerning is his decline in exit-velocity (91 MPH down to 87.5 MPH) and his barrels per plate appearance dropping from 7.4% to 4.8% from last season to this year. What that means is that when Grandal did make contact it was weak contact. His ISO power metric dropped nearly 40 points and his wRC+ plummeted from 121 to 102.
Again I know many of you are not high on Grandal right now but he does still have a lot of skills. Namely his power being his biggest strength. Grandal has slugged 49 home runs for the Dodgers over the last two years. He’s also considered one of the best pitch-framers in the game today. Not only that but he also threw out base runners (32%) at an above league average mark.
I don’t think the Dodgers would move him, but his lack of playing time in the playoffs raised eyebrows for many. Grandal garnered just 11 plate appearances (0 for 11 with 3 BB) in the postseason which included just three plate appearances in the World Series. Austin Barnes got the lion’s share of the playing time.
You would figure if the Dodgers were to deal Grandal that Barnes would take over the full time catching duties with rookie Kyle Farmer serving as his backup. Grandal earned 5.5 million dollars in 2017 and is projected to earn 7.7 million dollars (according to MLBtraderumors) in his final season of arbitration. Grandal is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. He also made a questionable comment about Dodger fans, although Oscar defended him.
If Grandal was not nursing a hidden injury then it is possible he was sparingly used this October because of his career .087 batting average in the postseason. It was still somewhat surprising how little the Dodgers used him during their World Series run.
Do you think the Dodgers should trade Grandal? Do you see a fit with any of the other clubs? Sound off in the comments, but be nice. Remember he’s been a regular contributor and has smashed 65 home runs since being traded to the Dodgers in December of 2014.