The Dodgers Will Win The NL West a 7th Consecutive Season… and then what happens next depends upon what happens over the next few weeks. By early next week, we will find out if Yasmani Grandal takes the Qualifying Offer – my guess is he will not unless some personal circumstances dictate he stay in Southern California. I think some other team (and there are lots of interested teams) will give him 4 years at about $70 million. After all, he is one of the Top Catchers in baseball.
Whether Ryu takes the Qualifying Offer is up for debate. It would seem that he could get a 3 year/$45 million deal somewhere, but maybe he wants to stay in LA and would agree to a 3 year/$36 million deal. I say it’s even money he takes the QO with the Dodgers. They could still negiotate after that on a 3-year deal, I can’t see 4 years for him but maybe Friedman will do it. The good news is that his arm seems fine. It’s his David Wells body I worry about.
The Dodgers have a history of strong defensive catchers, and I see no reasonAustin Barnescan’t fill that bill in 2019. He had a bad year in 2018 with the bat, but I see a solid hitter who should rebound. Bad years happen. In 2017, he hit .289 with a .408 OB%. He is 28 years-old, coming into his prime and should be able to deliver 350 to 400 AB’s even though at 5′ 10″ and 190 pounds soaking wet, he is not a workhorse. He’s likely somewhere in between his best and worst years. For his career in 479 AB’s he has a .240 BA and a .364 OB%. As a #8 bitter he would be fine. It kills me that people say “Well, Austin Barnes can’t be the regular catcher since he had such a a bad year in 2018.” Does that mean he will have another bad year? Is a player only defined by the last line of his baseball card? That’s silly. Players have bad years and rebound all the time.
The Dodgers will need another catcher, but unless they decide to go after JT Realmuto (which doesn’t seem likley), they just need a platoon partner with Barnes. I don’t even think the partner needs to hit LH. AJ Ellis and Kurt Suzuki are two older catchers who would fit the bill and keep the spot warm for Kaybear Ruiz. It’s possible Ruiz could get the call to the bigs the second half of next year, but that’s pushing it. Most likely he will arrive in 2020. However, you never know…. The point is: a 1-year deal is all that is really needed and then there is Will Smith, who could probably serve as a #2 catcher. He hit 20 HR across two levels last year, but struggled in 87 AB’s at AAA, but that really doesn’t mean much. It’s unlikely he would start the season with the Dodgers, however.
If the Dodgers had a Suzuki or Ellis as a backup, I would be fine going into the season with Austin Barnes as the catcher. He hits #8 and that’s it! Of course, Grandal could take the QO and it’s status quo for another year. Worse things than signing one of tyhe Top 3 catchers in baseball to a 1-year deal (World Series notwithstanding). Hurry up and wait!