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The Dodgers’ Biggest Mistake of the Off-Season

April 3, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) hits a two run home run against the San Diego Padres in the eighth inning during the opening day game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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]

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

27 Comments

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  1. I don’t think the Dodgers made a mistake, I think Grandal did by not taking NY’s offer. I do think you are correct in thinking he wanted a fresh start. Deals go 2ways and I don’t think he or the team wanted to continue their relationship.

    • Dodgers have him a qualifying offer. He should’ve taken it, proved he could catch a baseball thrown to him, and stopped pretending to be a switch hitter.

  2. A top 3 catcher who gets benched during consecutive post seasons! Stats do not give an accurate picture of Grandal, you have to watch him game by game struggle with being on the same page as the pitchers, allowing pitches go between his legs because of poor blocking technique, having balls knocked out of his glove by runners, completely missing throws from infielders and outfielders, unable to find balls at his feet, etc. — the list is long. Grandal leaving the Dodgers is addition by subtraction.

    • Exactly,
      The numbers make it look like he was good, but he struggled often with catching the ball.
      He’s a catcher and he couldn’t catch.
      Kershaw lost confidence in the ability of Grandal to catch his curve.
      The same was true of other pitchers. That hurts the team when pictures can’t throw their best pitches.

  3. Grandal knew he wasn’t wanted. He felt it. Nobody would want to stay where they’re not wanted. I think the moral of the Dodgers is poor. People grow up wanting to play baseball not be rotating Benchwarmers.

  4. Yaz in the post season is a disaster. 8 for 75 in his career with 35 strikeouts. Add in his defensive deficiencies and it is a no brainer to let him walk.

  5. How many mistakes from balls popping out of his stiff, over-sized glove?

    It started about middle of July of last year. Balls thrown to homeplate, on time and on target just popping out, and runs being scored. I’ve asked a few “journos” (I even asked Grandal via Twitter) back then after it was becoming “a thing” if they knew if Grandal had an endorsement deal with the glove manufacturer and was obligated to use that glove even if it meant losing games?

    Of course no one answered, but I wonder if there is any data that links poor performance gear with poor performance on the field and if those athletes are ‘bound to the death’ to use garbage equipment or lose endorsement money and break ongoing contracts?

  6. OK you watching the same games? You obviously are clueless. As the guys above me state he was BENCHED in the postseason 2 years running!!

    What part of using the Farm System do you not understand? This is a Kasten run team, it will build and use the farm system to maximize profits…Get that…They have two outstanding catchers on the Farm….

    How do they let a clueless guy like you blog for Dodger Nation?? Jeez….

    • I mentioned that Ruiz and Smith are the future. The problem is they were looking for a stopgap for 1 year and let a top 3 catcher leave on a 1 year deal. Now they have Russell Martin and he’s a significant downgrade from Grandal. They didn’t need to sign him to a 4 year deal which blocks Ruiz and Smith, it was a 1 year deal, and that’s the problem.

  7. The problem with Yasmany has been his inconsistency. Over the course of a season, he ranks high in various categories and his pitch framing is undoubtedly a major asset. However, he goes through stretches where it is painful to watch. We can use someone more consistent, even if that means less talented – especially in the postseason.

      • I think even consistently mediocre would have been better than what we got. Consistently bad would not be on a major league roster to begin with, so that’s not a valid point. I don’t think it would be fair to criticize him for 2017 PS since there were family issues that would have made it difficult for anyone. However, entire 2018 season and 2018 PS was a different story.

  8. I agree with the sentiment on the board…he was extended an offer by the Dodgers and he didn’t take it…not surprised that he signed with the Brewers…he did everything he could to help them get to the World Series last year!

  9. the dodgers expect too much from their players…….they bring back kemp and he gets hot for awhile and the core of the team rides the bench because he hits the ball sometimes and then when he is needed he turns cold and the players sitting don’t want to play or need to be playing every game to get into a groove……grandahl would still be with the Dodgers if they would have treated him better…….he has great numbers until they start messing with his head……putting pitching in that doesn’t follow his play calling and makes him look bad and that erodes his status…….he makes errors trying to give the extra effort

  10. How can you get rid of Puig, Wood and Kemp, and sign a catcher who loses big games and cannot catch ? Where are the World Series home runs, the game saving blocks or the pitch calls that froze the opponent at the plate for the last out ? We only lost the World Series the past two years, to better teams. Houston was young, hungry and had great timing. At the end, even I was rooting for those kids. And Boston won 110 games and beat the best two teams in their division decisively before getting to us. We were lucky to take them to 7 games.

    • Actually, we didn’t take Boston to 7 games. They beat us in 5, and it took us 18 innings to get our only win. That’s why I would say this off season isn’t going to get the job done unless we make a major splash. Whether that’s Harper, Kluber or Castellanos, something needs to change.

  11. I won’t go as far as to say letting Grandal get away was a mistake necessarily… BUT, if they fail to obtain an impact RH bat this off season, then that IS A HUGE MISTAKE and it will hurt team big time. Any LHP out there who can simply breathe will be facing this inept offense.

  12. 25 mil for one year would make Grandal the second highest paid player on the team behind Kersh. That seems exorbitant. The 17.9 mil QO was fair and I wish Grandal would have accepted it. I wish him nothing but the best and he has a good chance to rake in the Brewers park and increase his value for a 2020 contract— I hope he does just that. I noticed you neglected to mention that the Dodgers got a competitive balance draft pick by making him a QO that he rejected. That should be part of the article.

  13. These are good arguments and stats on paper, but the bottom line is that Grandal has been benched two years in a row when it mattered most. His stats don’t translate to post season success. And the Dodgers have more than enough talent to win the west without him. So if he isn’t going to play in the playoffs, why pay him that much during the regular season when it’s highly probable they’re winning the division anyway.

  14. Great article, I love the comments. If you are complaining about Grandal being inconsistent in the playoffs then you should also be complaining about Kershaw or Roberts or Kenley….the list can go on. I think the thing that hurts the most is they are afraid to go over the salary cap even though they are one of the richest teams in baseball. Cubs, Astros, and Red Sox either went over the luxury cap, traded star prospects, or both to win a World Series. What have the Boys in Blue done? Russell Martin and Joe Kelly. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Buffalo Bills of Baseball.

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