Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Welcome to the Blue, Yasmani Grandal!

Yasmani Grandal is the key piece coming to the Dodgers from the Matt Kemp Trade.  You can follow Grandal on twitter here: @YazmanianDVL08.  Per a Dodger Press Release:
Grandal, whose name is pronounced yas-MAH-nee gran-DAHL, has a .245 career batting average with 24 home runs and 94 RBI in 216 games with the Padres from 2012-14. The switch-hitter appeared in 128 games last year at catcher (76 games) and first base (37 games) and posted career-best marks in runs (47), hits (85), doubles (19), home runs (15) and RBI (49) in his third big league season.

Grandal was selected to the 2012 MLB All-Star Futures Game and posted a .310/.408/.487 slashline in four minor league seasons from 2010-13 in the Reds and Padres organizations. The native of Cuba was originally selected by the Reds in the first round (12th overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Miami and then acquired by San Diego from Cincinnati on Dec. 17, 2011 in a five-player deal.
There has been a lot said about Grandal's skills behind the plate.  He is noted by the sabermetrically inclined for having superior pitch-framing skills.  While others say that he can't throw runners out and his recent knee injury to his ACL/MCL has limited his mobility (he had a torn ACL/MCL).  Whatever the case, he will pair up with AJ Ellis as the Dodger backstop.

At this point, I think it's too early to tell who will be the Dodgers primary catcher.  Grandal is likely to hit better than Ellis (and with more power), but Ellis has the trust and respect of the Dodger staff (which Grandal appeared to not have in San Diego).  BTW, it should be noted that Grandal was busted for PED's after his fantastic 2012 rookie season.

Via Pedro Moura at the OC Register, "Grandal is a gamble for Dodgers."
He is a catcher, one with a superb ability to frame balls so they look like strikes, and he has a .350 career on-base percentage, seventh-best among active catchers. He has hit 24 home runs in the equivalent of a season and a half of work – and did it playing half his games in Petco Park, one of the most homer-suppressing stadiums in the sport.

But the second school of thought is that Grandal is barely an average hitter for a catcher, with questionable skills behind the plate. The case for that: Grandal’s offensive statistics after his 2012 rookie season look a lot different than they did during it, and, beyond pitch-framing, his defensive numbers have never looked all that great.
Can Grandal have the kind of break out season the Dodger front office, no doubt, are hoping for?  Can he field his position at the dish with sufficient skill?  How much defensive skill at the catcher position are the Dodgers willing to give up for offensive prowess? We won't know any of these answers until we are well into the year, so be prepared for an interesting 2015 Baseball season.

In celebration of Grandal's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America) and the 1964 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Yasmani Grandal, via Baseball-Reference:

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