Yasmani Grandal, the Dodgers best catcher of the decade, is now with the Chicago White Sox. He’s only two years removed from the 2018 World Series.
The two-time All-Star backstop never really had it easy for the Dodgers in back-to-back postseasons. By the end of 2017, Grandal was basically heading into the offseason with rumors swirling about Austin Barnes being the next big thing behind the plate for the boys in blue.
This largely came about due to Grandal’s second-half struggles that season, which involved an abysmal .217 batting average after a first-half that saw him hit around .300 while smacking more home runs than some teams’ catchers produce in a full season.
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Grandal’s offense buoyed what sometimes could be questionable defensive skills. He really is not a bad defensive catcher, but his poor hitting and poor defense in the playoffs amplified his struggles and made the 2018 season into a competition with Austin Barnes.
Fast forward to this offseason, and the comparison between Grandal and Barnes would probably make most of you shake your head at least. Barnes was demoted before the 2019 postseason in favor of rookie upshot Will Smith, one of the more fun additions to the active roster this season.
Grandal smacked a career-high 28 home runs in his one-year, $18.25 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers and earned himself a four-year deal with the ChiSox worth $73 million. A year ago, we were watching Grandal garner limited interest in the free-agent market due to other catchers being available (like Wilson Ramos and J.T. Realmuto) and due to his prospect cost thanks to the qualifying offer the team offered him.
While Grandal’s steady offensive production (or at least his steady end-of-season line) could be missed by some fans, there are reasons to be happy he’s found a home far from LA.
For starters, Smith really does seem like he could be the future, and his low cost makes him even more valuable to a team dealing with some hefty contracts and some pressing extension possibilities coming in the next couple of years with Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, and Corey Seager. Beyond Smith’s cost, Grandal does not really add much from the right side of the plate, even as a switch hitter, while Smith provides at least some potential righty power for a lefty-heavy lineup.
Ultimately, Grandal may have been the centerpiece of the Matt Kemp trade to the San Diego Padres, and he may have stabilized the position for the majority of the decade, but his departure and success outside of LA should not have fans wondering what if. Grandal’s signings in Milwaukee and Chicago benefit both LA and Grandal mutually.