Perhaps the biggest came at the Winter Meetings when the Dodgers traded longtime fan favorite Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, among others. A.J. Ellis, who has been the Dodger’s starter behind the plate for the past three years, is still on the roster, leaving an interesting decision for manager Don Mattingly come April.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Friedman has his own idea of how the pairing will work:
Friedman sounds like Grandal/Ellis could be a platoon depending on opposing starting pitcher.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 19, 2015
Grandal is a switch-hitter, but has been a much better hitter left-handed in his career because of a right knee injury suffered in 2013. He is a .252 career hitter from the left side of the plate, compared to .225 from the right side. In addition, 19 of his 24 career home runs, including all 15 he hit in 2014 have come from the left side of the plate. So it looks like Grandal could be the starter behind the plate when the opposing pitcher is right-handed.
Ellis, on the other hand, hits exclusively righty. In 2014 he hit .215 against left-handers and .183 against right-handed pitching. Ellis’ production and health has decreased every year since becoming the starter in 2012. In 2012, he hit .270 in 133 games, in 2013 he hit .238 in 115 games and in 2014 he hit .191 in 93 games. It’s clear that the soon to be 34-year-old Ellis can no longer carry the load as the everyday catcher, and that is why Friedman gave up Kemp to get Grandal.
If Grandal’s knee is healthy, as he claims, he may take over the everyday role. But until he can prove that, a platoon seems to be the best option for Mattingly.
Dodgers FanFest – Yasmani Grandal