The Dodgers made a decision they will regret. It isn’t the trade that sent Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds. It isn’t their signing of Joe Kelly.
Their mistake is letting Yasmani Grandal head to the Milwaukee Brewers.
While Grandal recently became a disliked player among fans due to his postseason play, he has still been a top 3 catcher in baseball since the Dodgers acquired him from the San Diego Padres in 2015. Among all qualified catchers since the 2015 season (31 total), Grandal ranks 2nd in homers (89), 3rd in wRC+ (116), 5th in wOBA (.341), and 3rd in WAR (11.2).
Even if you want to use old-school numbers, he was 7th in OBP (.337), 3rd in SLG (.453), and 5th in RBI (245).
To add to that, he has also been a top pitch framer every season; The lowest he ranked in his time with the Dodgers was 4th. The pitchers are going to feel the effects from losing him unless Austin Barnes starts almost every game. And if that happens, then the offense is going to feel the effect. Some people will say “but the passed balls,” and sure, it’s something he should improve on, but the value of framing close to 7,000 pitches a season outweighs 10 passed balls by a large margin.
Grandal is truly an elite catcher in baseball. He is the best the Dodgers have had since Russell Martin, and arguably since Mike Piazza. To let him leave on a 1 year deal worth slightly more than the qualifying offer they gave him is just terrible. Oh, and the Dodgers are still looking to add a catcher to help bridge the gap to top prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.
[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/baseball-america-top-10-dodgers-prospects/2019/01/06/” type=”big” color=”red”] Baseball America: Top-10 Dodgers Prospects[/button]
Sure they can go get J.T. Realmuto but the Miami Marlins still want Cody Bellinger in the trade. Maybe the Marlins agree and settle for Verdugo, but then you create a hole in the outfield. Are they going to sign Harper? Not unless he wants a 5 year deal, which is unlikely. They could go acquire Francisco Cervelli but he hasn’t been a good pitch framer in 2 years and he’s had 1 good offensive season in the past 3 years to go along with concussion problems. IF they sign Martin Maldonado, the best free agent catcher left, they’re really just cloning Barnes instead of upgrading.
The perfect bridge to Smith and Ruiz was on the free agent market. All they had to do was spend cash and they didn’t do it. They should’ve been willing to offer Grandal up to $25 million to get him signed for 1 year.
Now, there’s 1 variable here, If Grandal wanted to leave Los Angeles for a fresh start. It’s entirely possible, and if that’s the case, enjoy Milwaukee, Yasmani. But right now, all we know is the Dodgers are looking to add a catcher and they didn’t sign one of the best ones available to a 1 year deal. And even if he wanted a fresh start, money usually talks.
Maybe the owners are telling Andrew Friedman he had to go, because letting Grandal leave on a team friendly, 1 year deal is the most un-Friedman thing to do.
Or maybe the owners are telling Friedman to keep the payroll down. If that’s the case, the Dodgers aren’t going to upgrade much, if at all, from last year without trading a lot of good prospects. But even if it’s a luxury tax issue, signing Grandal wouldn’t have taken them over. And if they aren’t going to sign Harper or Machado, they aren’t signing anyone better than Grandal because no one else available is better. Maybe they have a trade in mind, but you’re giving up a lot of value for a player as good as Grandal when you could’ve decided to just pay cash.
And if the owners are telling Friedman not to spend a lot of money, that’s a problem. The Dodgers are one of the 2 richest teams in baseball and they haven’t won a World Series in over 30 years. They’re swimming in money. Just spend slightly more of it to make the best team possible. The luxury tax fee on a $250 million payroll is just over $12 million. That’s nothing for the owners to spend.
Currently, the Dodgers are a worse team than last year when they struggled to win the division. Moves are going to come but it’s hard to see one that makes more sense than Grandal on a 1 year deal.
[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-social-media-reactions-to-yasmani-grandal-contract/2019/01/11/” type=”big” color=”red”] Dodgers: Social Media Reactions to Yasmani Grandal Contract[/button]