The Dodgers have been rumored to go after the big free agents this upcoming offseason. However, I believe one of their top priorities should be someone who is already on the roster. Yasmani Grandal.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the names that come to mind when thinking about the 2019 free agent class. They are two of the best and brightest young stars in the game today, so the love affair with them is more than reasonable. Every team wants them on their roster, and that will drive the price up and give both of them historic contracts.
Both players are high on the wish list of Dodger fans. Causing soon to be free agents on the current roster to be an afterthought. Even a player who is top five at his position like Yasmani Grandal. Like him or not, Grandal is one of the best catchers in baseball.
Offensively he is a constant power threat every time he steps to the plate. He can be streaky at the plate, but when he is on a hot streak, he is without a doubt one of the best hitters on this team. On the flip side, when he is struggling, he can put together some of the most frustrating plate appearances you will ever see.
His cold streaks should be forgiven, considering he plays the most physically demanding position on the diamond. Catchers are out there grinding every single pitch on defense; the fact that they can get any production after taking the beating that they do is impressive.
Grandal led NL catchers in home runs for the past two seasons with 27 and 22 bombs during those two seasons. Best of all he has been as durable as you can get at that position. Grandal has one of the best bats from behind the plate. He does not get the attention he deserves, because of the bigger names like Yadier Molina and Buster Posey.
Last season (especially during the post season) Grandal looked replaceable with the emergence of Austin Barnes at the position. He got the majority of the starts toward the end of the season and during the post season, leading many fans to forget just how good Grandal is.
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It remains to be seen if Austin Barnes can be the main catcher for an entire season. He is still relatively new to the position and does not have the prototypical build of a normal catcher. Barnes has had struggles hitting this season, but his OBP is still good. But, Barnes is not the same offensive threat that Grandal is.
The argument against keeping Grandal is pretty clear-cut. The deepest position in the organization is catcher, so losing Grandal may not seem like that huge of a loss. Nonetheless, his absence will be felt more than anyone would expect.
As mentioned Barnes is a nice option at catcher and the combo of Grandal and Barnes is the best in the MLB. The combo of Barnes and Farmer would be a bit underwhelming compared to the former.
Two top prospects in the organization are catchers in Will Smith (no not that one) and Keibert Ruiz. Smith still needs a bit of fine-tuning, but he is having a nice season in the minors. Ruiz is one of the fastest rising prospects in baseball and at the age of nineteen he could benefit from spending at least one more season in the minors.
We have already talked about the offensive prowess that Grandal can bring to the Dodgers if they decide to keep him in Los Angeles, but we have yet to mention just how great he is behind the plate.
Grandal is easily one of the best receivers of the baseball in the MLB. He is the best pitch framer in all of baseball and has helped steal strikes for the pitching staff. Though defensive metrics can be a bit misleading at times, Grandal is at or near the top of every single category, and that has to mean something.
Yaz also has a great feel for his pitching staff. He has gained the trust of Clayton Kershaw after he lost his “personal catcher” AJ Ellis. Grandal has been great with the veterans of the staff and has proven to be reliable with the youngsters, his presence on the field alone should be enough for the Dodgers to want to bring the Cuban born catcher back.
Fans will be clamoring for Bryce Harper and Machado. However, Grandal should still be a top priority this off-season. The value of Grandal may not be felt now, but if he walks in free agency then, we will realize just how much Grandal meant to this team.