In the late hours of Tuesday night, Ken Rosenthal reported that Yasmani Grandal had agreed to a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Grandal, a free-agent, was arguably the best available catcher currently on the market. In November, Grandal turned down a one-year deal worth $17.9 million from the Dodgers.
His new deal with Milwaukee is reportedly for $18.25 million, roughly about $350,000 more than the Dodgers offered. The Dodgers weren’t the only offer he rejected, after he supposedly turned down a four-year contract worth around $60 million from the New York Mets as well.
With Grandal off the market, the choices for the Dodgers are very slim heading into 2019. As it currently stands, it looks like Austin Barnes will be the starting catcher on opening day. After a season in which Barnes hit .205, LA may be likely to look towards someone else.
Luckily for the Dodgers, they have a pretty good catcher in their farm season. Keibert Ruiz was recently named the No. 1 prospect in LA’s minor-league system, according to Baseball America.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Ruiz won’t be ready for the start of the 2019 season. Only 20 years old, Ruiz has yet to play ball above the double-A level. He played 101 games for Tulsa last year, hitting .268 with an OPS of .728.
With Ruiz not being ready, it looks as if the Dodgers will test the free-agent market, looking to sign a player to a one-year contract.
And no, they are not trading for J.T. Realmuto.
Well, at least I don’t believe they will.
The first, and likely best option at this point is Martin Maldonado. Hitting only nine homers in 2018, it’s definitely a drop-off compared to Grandal in regards to power. However, he would be a significant upgrade in regards to his defensive ability.
He’s been a finalist for the Gold Glove award the last two seasons, taking home the honors in 2017. Many make the case he’s the best defensive catcher in the game today.
At 32, he’s only two years older than Grandal, and will be a lot cheaper.
Another 32-year-old option would be Matt Wieters. From 2011-2016, Weiters made four All-Star teams, and was one of the best catchers in the game. Over the last few years, his game has slowly declined, hitting only .238 last season with eight home runs.
His health is a major concern as well, as he’s only appeared in 424 games over the last five seasons, an average of 85 games a year.
As we take a leap in age, we come across Nick Hundley. At 35, Hundley actually showed the most power amongst the name mentioned, hitting 10 homers in 2018. His .241 average is right on par with Grandal’s too. Though, he is a defensive liability, posting a -0.5 defensive WAR.
If the Dodgers don’t sign a catcher, there’s a possibility they trade for one. Last month, LA was rumored to be interested in Francisco Cervelli, the starting catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2018, the 32-year-old hit .259 with an OPS of .809. He had 12 home runs and drove in 57.
It’s unclear how much truth there was to that rumor, but adding Cervelli definitely would be a solid addition for LA. It would also work out perfectly, as he has only one year remaining on his contract.
Spring training begins in only six weeks, and it’s unclear what the Dodgers plan to do. With a void at second base as well, LA is likely to make a handful of moves still.