Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasmani Grandal, the Gem in the Blockbuster Deal


The Dodgers newest catcher Yasmani Grandal has officially begun to generate some buzz in spring training.

As of Saturday, the switch hitting 26-year-old player born in Havana, Cuba has been hitting a scorching .500 in the spring. Not to mention going 3 for 3 against the Cleveland Indians and starting 2014 Cy Young award winning pitcher Corey Kluber.

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  • Grandal came to the Dodgers this offseason as part of the deal that sent Dodgers fan favorite Matt Kemp to the Padres.

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    The Dodgers addressed a pressing need at catcher. Where the current catcher A.J. Ellis is strong and steady behind the plate, he lacks punch and conviction with the bat at the plate. The aging Ellis, 33, hit just .191 in 2014.

    “He’s always going to be striving for perfection.” – Don Mattingly

    Where Ellis’ value comes in, is his chemistry with the Dodgers pitching rotation, including 2014 National League Cy Young winner and National League MVP Clayton Kershaw.  However, with Ellis hitting such a low percentage it is an obvious hole in the batting order that teams are going to try and take advantage of.

    Kershaw is well known for being very critical of himself. How critical will he be of his new man behind the plate? That remains to be seen. After his most recent outing, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw “He’s always going to be striving for perfection.” Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times goes on to write that for Kershaw “Good isn’t nearly good enough…”

    The timing for Grandal to step in couldn’t be better. How often does a player get traded to a team and automatically get thrown in with one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game when it’s all said and done. Let’s go down the checklist of needs that Grandal addresses.

    1. Youth? Check! (26 years old)
    2. Offensive options? Check! (Switch Hitter)
    3. Hitting? Check! (.245 in 3 years with the Padres)

    Of course, there is always a kink in the armor of every ball player. For Grandal, some have questioned his inability to throw out runners. But with Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu on the mound, how many runners will get the chance to even advance to first? In all seriousness, this is a part of Grandal’s game that needs to improve.

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    During the regular season it does not seem too important letting runners take an extra base here and there. However, in the post-season that could be the difference between advancing or going home.

    There is also the fact that Grandal was suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season for testing positive for having a high testosterone level. Also in 2013 Grandal injured his knee and had to have an operation to repair his torn ACL and MCL.

    While it’s easy to take a wait and see approach as a fan, it is easy to foresee that Grandal could be an instant hit with fans, players, and coaches. He is constantly improving his game and because of his age there is still room for growth. Matthew Moreno of Dodgersnation.com quotes Grandal after his outing vs the Indians “I’ve always felt like I could drive the ball the other way, and this offseason I worked on that a lot,” said Grandal.

    With that type of commitment to improvement and the talent surrounding Grandal, there is only one direction he can go, and that is up.

    Big things are in the air for the young catcher from Cuba.

    Batter Up!