Yasmani Grandal, Catcher, 3rd Year Arb Eligible
Let’s start with the Dodgers only 3rd Year arb-eligible, half of the team’s talented catching tandem. Grandal will likely be the highest paid player of this group, and with the emergence of Austin Barnes during the Postseason, some say Grandal is expendable, especially with the expected arbitration price tag. Grandal played in 129 games, batted .247, drove in 58 runs, clubbed 22 home runs, and reached base at a .308 OBP.
We always hear about Grandal’s pitch framing skills, so you can bet his agent would bring this non-traditional metric to a hearing! However, there is not much historical data on catchers pitch framing abilities available for comparison, so it could be a tough point to argue. Grandal’s pitch framing skills have ranked amongst the top 3-5 catchers in baseball over the past few years, depending on which metric is used. Grandal, however, led the Majors in passed balls and was in the middle of the pack in throwing out baserunners.
COMPS: Salvador Perez, KC; Matt Wieters, WAS; Wellington Castillo, CHW
When comparing Yaz to other catchers, we want to look at players who had their 3rd year platform season within the last few seasons–it makes for a smoother comparison, taking into account inflation, and other market factors present that were similar for each of these players when they received their contracts. Perez is a natural comp, however, he signed a team friendly extension essentially buying out his arbitration while he was young (common tactic especially amongst smaller market clubs). So let’s eliminate him.
Wieters earned $8.3 million after his 3rd-year platform season in 2014 despite the fact he played in only 26 games due to an injury-shortened season. This could be bad news for the Dodgers. The Dodgers could point to Wieters previous seasons and argue he was a special case. Well, Yaz’s past seasons are similar, but for those that value WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Wieters stood at 13.4 after his platform year, while Yas stands at 10.9. So close argument for the Grandal camp here. Finally, let’s look at Castillo. After his platform year with Az in 2016, he received $6 million.
Compared to Yaz, he had a slow start to his career but has emerged as a catcher with a similar offensive profile to Grandal, and his defensive stats in his platform year was comparable to Grandal’s platform year. Although Grandal is a more highly regarded pitch framer and leader of a pitching staff. If we go back to using WAR, Castillo just tops Yaz at 11.1. This is an inexact science, so we need to take it into account some of the intangibles, such as Yaz’s handling of the pitching staff as a positive, and also his lack of clutchness down the stretch a negative. Yaz made $5.5 million last year. I have decided to take the midpoint between Castillo and Wieters salaries, and give it a little bump for Yaz because we like him.
PREDICTION: $7.5 million