Hurry up and Wait!

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!   

This article has 35 Comments

  1. A new name has popped onto my radar thanks to the Athletic.


    What can you tell me about:

    Ron Porterfield and the Dodger organizational staff have several other cases at hand. For instance, Jesen Therrien had Tommy John surgery after two months with the Phillies in 2017, signed with the Dodgers on Nov. 24 and is now in his full rehab program in Arizona.

      1. I hope he’s that guy for us this year. We’ve had a bunch of those recently. Morrow, Taylor, Muncy. Even though I’m holding out hope for Connor Joe, we are so gridlocked with bench pieces & utility men that the only way he sniffs a roster spot is if an injury occurs.

  2. I guess for Ryu it comes down to what level of financial interest have other teams shown toward him so far during free agency? If he has something lined up he likes, he should take it. If not, a one-year deal for $17.9 million is not a bad contract to sign. He could theoretically even build up his value a bit with a full healthy season.
    In short, I don’t think the decision is his; it’s more what the market dictates. Personally, I’d love to have him back because I enjoy watching him pitch (and bat!).

  3. I think Austin Barnes is an ideal backup catcher. Defensively he is good. Not better than good because he does not have the arm. Good with balls in the dirt, good with calling a game, good with framing, but not good with throwing. In 434 innings at catcher, Austin had 10 defensive runs saved, 1 PB, and 8 WP. But he only had a 22% CS percentage. I do not put a lot of stock into his bad offensive 2018. Austin has hit everywhere he has played. Offense and defensive versatility was and is his ticket.
    I see no way that Ruiz will be close to being a ML catcher anytime in 2019. Fans continue to look at him and other prospects in an offensive frame of mind. But there is a defensive element that also must be considered. Catcher is a defense first position, and if you can get offense you have an AS. Ruiz is not a ML caliber defensive catcher right now. In his last two years he has had 10 PB and a 22% CS percentage (2017), and 11 PB and 26% CS percentage (2018).
    Conversely, Will Smith had 5 PB with a 48% CS percentage (2017), and 8 PB with a 36% CS percentage (2018). I absolutely agree that 87 AAA AB’s is not enough to draw any conclusions. I think the drop off in Smith’s defense in 2018 had a lot to do with him playing more infield. He played almost as many innings at 3B as he did at C. Offensively he is not a corner infielder. His value is as a catcher. I think too many dismiss Smith as a viable future LAD catcher, because of Ruiz’s advanced offensive skills. I think it is more likely that Smith starts as the #1 catcher at AAA with Rocky Gale as the backup/mentor, and Ruiz will be the #1 catcher at AA. They both need innings at catcher to improve both offensively and defensively.
    I do not believe the Dodgers will meet what Atlanta or Houston or Washington will offer for Realmuto. Wilson Ramos on a 2 year max deal is a viable option. Jonathan Lucroy on a 1 year deal with an option is a viable alternative.

  4. Jeff Sullivan, in today’s Fangraphs’ chart, says a Mariners trade of James Paxton could happen any day and any moment. On the surface we’re not a match because we already have a bunch of lefty starters, BUT . . . if we were steathily in the running for an excellent top-of-the-rotation piece, what could we offer? Judging from their return on Zunino they are interested in young cost-controlled players who are ready right now.
    Ferguson, Stripling, Smith, Toles?

    1. And lookout landing just did a piece naming us as a preferred destination for Paxton
      Their deal–verdugo. Stripling & ruiz–was immediately salivated over by the commenters.

  5. I agree, they don’t have to go out get a brand name catcher. Barnes can handle the majority of the work load, they probably just need a decent backup. I agree that AJ Ellis would be a good option to backup. He gives you quality ABs. Kershaw is literally in love with him. We (the fans) love him. He hits in the post season and he produces his own media content.

    There are a lot of young players that haven’t yet hit their prime, so even a similar lineup should hit as well, or better than last year. This isn’t a bad team by any means. I would like to have a little less mixing and matching with more regular playing time, but that’s just me – and about a few million other fans.

    Verdugo CF
    Seager SS
    Turner 3B
    Bellinger 1B
    Kemp / Pederson LF
    Muncy 2B
    Puig RF
    Barnes / Ellis C

    If Muncy can’t handle 2B, you can move him, Bellinger, Verdugo around and give Kike or Taylor 2B. Likewise at CF. If you really look at the free agent market, there isn’t a ton of options to improve on this core. DJ LeMahieu is not the answer as he has shown that he is incapable of hitting away from Coors. I like Dozier, and he’s probably closer to his career numbers next year after nagging injuries hurt his production last year. But, are either of them really better than Kike and Taylor? After all Kike’s OPS was 806 as a 26 year old, just entering his prime. Chris Taylor’s was 775 in a down year as a 27 year old, entering his prime. Is any other available second baseman going to do that and provide the same level of defense as these in house options? I made some snarky comments about the roster recently, but truthfully, this is still a damn good team and all these players haven’t yet hit their prime, or are at the very beginning of their prime years: Bellinger, Muncy, Seager, Taylor, Kike, Pederson, Puig, Toles, Verdugo.

    Now that the World Series is a little further back in the rear view mirror, I’m optimistic that some of these players will step up and out of their platoon roles and grab a full time position. The roster is so flexible, it increases the chance that someone will step up because every position has capable players to fill a role. Maybe last year was just a weird anomaly. Kershaw and Jansen were never really right. A lot of regression from Taylor and Belli. Seager lost for the year, I can go on and on. I think the FO just needs to be opportunistic and try to improve a position if they can via trade. We have way to many outfielders and a ton of Rule 5 guys that need to be moved. The pitching staff is probably going to be the best in the NL with Kersh, Walker, Urias leading the way and tons of guys that are better than most 4 and 5 starters around the league staring with Hill and Korean Wells. Again, a starter like Wood, or Maeda will need to be traded if Wells, I mean Ryu, comes back under that QO and others will bolster an already full pen. We got options, and can probably start the season as the favorite to win the West with no roster moves at all.

  6. Hey Mark–I saw an MLBN piece on Realmuto and now finally see what you’ve been talking about. Wow. What a nice player. I even–for a minute–tried to talk myself into trading Ruiz for him but I couldn’t. If we do, it signals that we are truly going all-in. I love his athleticism and the fact he is in his prime. Whatever team gets him is going to be very happy. He looks like the real deal. I’m currently trying to ready myself for a LeMahieu signing [no Harper] and a catcher to pair with Barnes. I read somewhere that, BASED ON BATTED BALL DATA, LeMahieu is a prime candidate for the fix-your-swing-so-you-can-hit-more-dingers school @ Launch Angle U.

    1. I’m also reading that the talk about Wilson Ramos being a better fit on an AL team because of the DH and his injury history is a bit overblown. Evidently he wants to be a full-time catcher and could theoretically even more time off if partnered with Barnes, who if nothing else is an above-average back-up catcher. I’m not sure what the purpose of signing a crummy back-up catcher is to us where we are in the win distribution curve. We should probably be wanting a little more. I’m willing to dip down to Martin Maldonado or Kurt Suzuki but I’m not sure I’m into Chirinos or AJ Ellis. I guess if I handicapped my choices right now I’d go (I’m also assuming Grandal is gone):

      1. Wilson Ramos
      2. Russell Martin
      3. JT Realmuto
      4. Martin Maldonado
      5. Kurt Suzuki

  7. Man, this place is D E A D
    Oneil cruz, whom we traded to the pirates in the tony watson deal, was just named by mlb pipeline as their best power prospect [he’s their #4 overall]
    DJ Peters is our representative
    just goes to show even in trades where it looks like we give up nothing big, sometimes that changes

  8. I don’t think a catchers size makes a big difference anymore, because catchers can’t block the plate when they don’t have the ball.

    And runners can’t run over catchers anymore, unless they have the ball, and they are blocking the plate.

    I agree with AC about Barnes being a good back up catcher.

    AC is right about Barnes almost never throwing any runners out, and that is to bad, because other then that, Barnes is a very good defensive catcher, like AC said.

    I also think Barnes will probably hit better this next year too.

    I just think because Roberts over played Grandal in the first three months of the season, because only Grandal and Kemp were really hitting and Grandal was so hot, that never gave Barnes enough at bats early, to get on track with his hitting.

    And it isn’t like Barnes got many consistent at bats after that, either.

    I think Barnes got more consistent at bats in the post season this year, then he did all season long, and that was only after Grandal collapsed, on defense.

    I see Barnes more as a back up catcher, but I think he needs to play much more often then he did, so we can count on him hitting, when we need him.

    I think it is just better to have both of our catcher’s playing time divided a little more evenly, to keep one catcher sharp, and keep our starting catcher fresh.

    I like Suzuki because he has had a couple of pretty good offensive seasons in the last couple years, and he hits with some power too.

    And that is after Suzuki moved from the American League to the National League, and he also has decent defensive metrics, so he shouldn’t hurt us to much, on defense.

    Of course it always depends on the deal, when it comes to any player, and that is the same, when it comes with Suzuki.

    About Taylor, Kike, and DJ, one thing that DJ has going for himself, unlike Taylor and Kike, DJ hits much better when runners are in scoring position, and he has done that, pretty consistently.

    Although Taylor is a little better then Kike in these situations, both of these players have had trouble even putting the ball in play at times, when there is a runner on third, with less then two outs.

    And they have both struck out to often then they should, when runners were in scoring position.

    And then you add Joc to this equation, we have two players that don’t hit well at all in these situations, and another, that strikes out way to much, in these situations, and in general.

  9. I like Kemp BUT with the number of outfielders, would you consider a trade of Kemp for Russell Martin? May need to add or subtract players to get it done. Martin could be a bridge to one of our young catchers & Kemp could DH in the AL.

    1. Russ Martin ued to be my favorite player, but here’s his BA the last 4 years:

  10. Sorry the thought of another season with Barnes, Taylor/Kiki in the same lineup is a depressing thought despite all the optimism toward them.

    If the young Cuban who just signed is reportedly the best of all the catchers in the minors let him develop and send Ruiz in a package for Realmuto. Aside from that, please no Ellis, have we forgotten his always starring at strike one right down the center of the plate? Lets move forward not backward. Why do we have to wait, get Realmuto now while Turner and company are in their prime.

    1. I would do that for the right price.

      1. Verdugo RF
      2. Seager SS
      3. Turner 3B
      4. Abreu 1B
      5. Bellinger CF
      6. Realmuto C
      7. Kemp/Pederson LF
      8. Kike or Taylor 2B

      Puig and Muncy traded.

    2. Agreed, Bruce. The thought of Barnes, Kike, and both Taylor & Joc, are depressing for me. Sure, each has a quality that got them to the big league. One could also throw in the logic that they have got them collectively to the pennant two years in a row, but that really does nothing for me except create a kind of dread. All these players have major problems with some part of their game. None have developed a complete game in any fashion. Take away the HR to really see the real player. A good FO will fine tune their roster, not rest with what they have. You have a core on every team, the rest are interchangeable until another solid performer makes his case for permenancy.

      1. The major problem with the Dodger FO is the Cheap Charlie mentality. You don’t win with this approach, not in a big market town. The refusal to identify the talent and spend marks this club. Darvish and Machado, Reddick, Forsythe, and Dozier, all busts with the Dodgers, mark the FO as amateurish at best when it comes to identifying, targeting, and paying for real talent to get to the next level. Until that happens, luck will be the only thing the FO will rely on. Luck that someone comes along and breaks out in a fashion that Muncy did. Muncy is a cheap hire. You could say it was a brilliant move, but it was really a lucky one. FO likes diving into the dumpsters. Their relief army proves my point. They are just guessing and hoping. We got manhandled in the WS. Plain and simple.

        1. Here I thought the Dodgers had one of the highest payrolls in baseball last year. I guess I was wrong and the only thing that got them to the World Series two years in a row was pure, blind luck.

          I suppose you do your taxes the same way: Decide what you want to pay and work your way up.

          I wish I could suffer foolish comments better, but I can’t. It’s probably a character flaw!

        2. Darvish was considered the best pitcher available at the deadline, including Verlander. Verlander was not pitching with Detroit the way he pitched with Houston.
          Machado was considered the best player available in 2018 at the trade deadline.
          The Dodgers needed a LHH OF because Ethier was out. Reddick was considered a good possibility. It did not work out.
          Forsythe cost the Dodgers a pitcher who has not pitched in two years. Dozier for Forsythe and save $1.5MM? Really you want to complain about that?
          It is real easy to complain about things that did not work out as planned. It is a lot harder to be in the hot seat and make the decisions.

          1. Two things, AC. If anyone did their homework on Darvish, you could see immediately he was not producing. He was struggling. I don’t blame the Dodgers for signing him as he has all the makings, physically, of a star pitcher and athlete. I could see right away, it was his head that was obstructing him. He looked uncomfortable. And it turned out badly for the Dodgers. It’s also turned out badly for the Cubs who probably were hoping for something/someone different.

            Verlander already had a pedigree before he was traded to Houston. Darvish really did not, just potential. Few pitchers have only stellar seasons. You weigh the pros and cons. The Dodgers signed the wrong guy.

            Machado, otoh, was a rental. Zaidi has said he was aware of his lack of hustle before the Dodgers decided to go after him. They knowingly took a chance. I also don’t blame them for taking the chance. It was not a good match for either Darvish or Machado. The FO let Darvish go. They had no belief in him. It seems the same with Manny. They don’t fit here.

            The FO considers $$ before anything else. If they can get a deal, there more apt to be in as you’ve illustrated this point in your post. I’m not really complaining about the above signings. It’s just that none of them turned out well. Bringing in Muncy turned out well. Bringing up Buehler turned out well. Signing Freese turned out well, but they are not the ultimate difference makers. Kazimir, McCarthy, Anderson, and several others have displayed very poor vision on the part of the FO. Turner has been the biggest difference maker on the Dodgers offensively and the FO had nothing to do with his acquisition.

            Kemp turned out well but the FO decided they would not play him regularly, yet he is the highest paid positional player. What kind of logic is this? I will stick to my point about luck being their greatest talent. Some people are just plain lucky, but luck doesn’t last forever. The Dodgers were far worse this season than 2017. Arizona collapsed. Dodgers had to fight tooth and nail to beat Colorado. The difference between 2017 and 2018 was very big. We got a lot of help from the weaker teams in the NL. 3 hit games are not a cause for celebration, they are a cause for deep anxiety in the structure of this team.

  11. Mark

    Did you see what Abreu did last year?

    Because Cody had better offensive numbers then Abreu last year.

    Although I know Abreu had been solid up until last year.

    He will be 32 next year, but I don’t know if that has anything to do with his drop in numbers.

    1. Yeah, it’s hard for an older guy to play for a horrid team. He rakes lefties. I would trade Muncy for him. He’s got two good years left.

  12. Rudy,

    I make millions from this site… who cares? 😉

    I just can’t listen to dumb shit!

    1. I appreciate what you are saying but it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more understanding towards other people’s points-of-view. Just because you may not agree doesn’t mean you need to spew venom.

  13. With Zaidi now with SF, and him being a non-traditionalist, is it possible that he would consider trading with the Dodgers. I think it is a very good chance that MadBum is going to be traded, and I would guess that NYY would be the favorite. But would Farhan consider trading him to LA for the right deal? How about Joe Panik? One year of MadBum and two years of Panik would check some of the boxes. Extremely doubtful, but at least there is a chance with Zaidi in SF.

  14. A lot of different opinions. Some are good and some bad. I come to this sight everyday. Love it.

    If I was manager. In ST I would make sure every starter could bunt. When they put the shift on, we bunt. You take what they give you. I wonder how long they will continue to put the shift on. It is just insane to try and hit into the shift. There were many times when I would see a good hit right up the middle and there is an infielder behind second for the out.

    I am happy to see Z gone. If he is the one who recommended that Kike bat third in the final game of the WS, than the Giants can have him. We now will see if Doc will manage a little more on how he played the game.

    I think we will have one of the best starting pitching staffs. Kershaw, Beuhler. Urias, and Hill. I would not keep Maeda or Wood. We have enough young farm kids that are close to being ready.

  15. Verdugo has to start. That leaves no room for Joc. Or, unless you want to put Verdugo in center, Puig in right and Joc/Kemp platoon in left. That puts Bellinger back at first where he belongs. That leaves Muncey to be traded. Now you have to solve second and catcher. Kike and Taylor are one and the same. One needs to be traded. I do not see Taylor changing his ways. If you do think last year was just a bad year, then put him at second.

    I just think everyone plays better when they have a defined role. Moving players around like last year year has to stop. I wish Grandal and Ryu would take the QO. I bitch at Grandal because of the last two WS. He is one of the best catchers in baseball.

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