The biggest news of the Dodger’s offseason has of course been the recent Clayton Kershaw extension. We’re all super relieved that Kershaw is staying in Los Angeles. But that isn’t the only piece of news coming out of Dodger Stadium this winter. The Dodgers have issued qualifying offers to two of their free agents. One of those players is left handed pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, and the other is to switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal. Few players bring out the ire of Dodger fans like Yasmani Grandal.
That leads me into the premise for this article today. Should the Dodgers bring back Yasmani Grandal behind the plate? Or should they go in a different direction? Since Austin Barnes, the backup catcher was one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2018, the Dodgers have three choices. They can go with Grandal again as the primary catcher in 2019 and find someone else to pair with him. They may go with one of their promising young catcher prospects like Will Smith, or Keibert Ruiz. Or they could bring in someone else from outside the organization.
Hear #Dodgers are definitely extending a qualifying offer to Yasmani Grandal. Still debating on Hyun-jin Ryu as deadline nears.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 2, 2018
The qualifying offer in 2018 is 17.5 million dollars. Grandal and Ryu both have ten days to make a decision. If they accept the offer then they will earn 17.5 million dollars on the one-year contract for 2019. If they refuse then they become unrestricted free agents. If either of them sign with another club then the Dodgers are protected with a compensatory draft pick for compensation.
When talking about Grandal, most Dodger fans become quite passionate one way or another. Some love him. Some hate him. Either way, he’s been quite a productive catcher, one of the best in MLB. However that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his warts.
When talking about Grandal, you have to play to his strengths. Those strengths are power and pitch-framing. When you talk about those two skills, he’s one of the best in MLB. Surely we know that Grandal hits a lot of home runs. For a catcher, this is quite impressive.
Grandal hit 24 home runs, second in MLB among catchers. Only Salvador Perez slugged more round trippers. In regards to wRC+, Grandal’s 125 was also second (J.T. Realmuto 126) and in on-base percentage Grandal’s .349 led MLB. Not only that, his BB% (13.9) tops in baseball. His WAR of 3.6 was second among all catchers and he led all catchers in slugging. According to Stat Corner, Grandal is the second best pitch-framer in all of baseball. His RAA (runs allowed average) was registered at 13.8 in 2018. Only Jeff Mathis had higher marks. If you were wondering, Austin Barnes came in at third.
He’s got his issues though. He led MLB with 26 passed balls from 2016-2017 and then had 9 in 2018. That’s a total of 35 passed balls over the last three seasons. We all know that Grandal not only has trouble hanging onto the ball but he also has problems blocking the plate.
A miserable October soured many people on Grandal’s abilities to be behind the dish. The Dodger management had to bench him after he had an unprecedented four errors which included two passed balls, and a missed catch error in game 1 of the NLCS against Milwaukee. We saw Grandal but in a more limited capacity for the remainder of the postseason. Maybe this has soured management somewhat on his skills. However it’s important to note that Grandal still knows the Dodger pitching staff better than anyone.
The catching market is pretty limited right now. It may be in the Dodger’s best interests to use another season of Grandal behind the plate. I know Grandal is a horrendous postseason hitter (career .107 average) but let’s not forget that Grandal has smashed 89 home runs for the Dodgers in the regular season since 2015. This season he hit 24 and drew 72 walks. He’s still one of the most productive catchers in baseball. I would probably be ok with him coming back, but I think the Dodgers need to find a better companion to pair with him. What do you guys think? Should the Dodgers bring back Yasmani Grandal? Sound off in the comments, and try to be rational about it.