The Dodgers find themselves with an interesting dilemma this season at catcher. Austin Barnes took over as the everyday catcher late last season, but Yasmani Grandal is projected to get the most starts this season.
Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes give the Dodgers a good problem to have at catcher. They have two legitimate starting catchers, and they need to find time to play both. Roberts has mentioned that Barnes will get the starts against left-handers, but Barnes hits right-handers better than he does southpaws.
Last season, Austin Barnes hit .321 compared to a .257 average against left-handed pitchers. Barnes also had a higher OPS against right-handed pitchers. Grandal on the other hand hits much better against right-handers since he is a much better hitter when he swings from the left side of the plate. Grandal has virtually no power when he hits from the right side. This was proven last season when 20 of Grandal’s 22 home runs came when he batted left-handed.
This would mean that a platoon would not allow the Dodgers to properly utilize Barnes. With Yasmani Grandal being in the final year of his contract, he is the better option to trade. Due to new free-agent compensation rules, the Dodgers most likely will not get a first-round pick when another team signs Grandal. The Dodgers would be better off trading Grandal now and acquiring a couple of prospects for him to either help deepen the farm system or to flip them in a trade later on this season.
Grandal is a top ten catcher in baseball; this is not a knock on him. It’s just that the Dodgers can deal away Grandal and still have strong organizational depth at catcher. The Dodgers have Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz in the minor leagues, and then Kyle Farmer can backup Austin Barnes. While Farmer has not proven himself in the major leagues, he has had some good at-bats and has shown enough to warrant himself as a decent backup catcher in the major leagues.
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The team that makes the most sense to trade Yasmani Grandal to is the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are currently projected to start Christian Vasquez at catcher, and while he had a good showing last season, he is not anywhere close to Grandal’s level of play. The Red Sox are trying to keep pace with the Yankees who added Giancarlo Stanton this off-season, and adding Grandal would bolster their weakest position. The Red Sox have an average farm system, but they have a couple of young flame throwers in Bryan Mata and Alex Scherff who would be a nice return for the Dodgers.
The addition of Yasmani Grandal would put the Red Sox lineup right on par with the Yankees lineup, and the Dodgers could move forward with Austin Barnes as their every day starting catcher. The Dodgers would also have a couple more prospects that they could develop or trade in a package for someone like Chris Archer.
Even if the Dodgers didn’t deal away whichever prospects they acquire from the Red Sox; they could help fill in for any prospects the Dodgers trade this year. While Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi always do their heavy lifting in the off-season, there is almost always at least one trade before the trade deadline every season.
The Dodgers may be content with letting Grandal and Barnes battle each other all season for playing time, but if they want to get something before Yasmani Grandal leaves in free agency, now would be the time to deal him. If the Dodgers do take the trade route, no team is a better fit than the Boston Red Sox.