Grandal, Baez avoid arbitration with Dodgers

In what is clearly among the slowest off-seasons in recent memory, the Dodgers finally – perhaps – struck the first real match of the 2018 hot stove season on Thursday afternoon when they gave one-year contract extensions to catcher Yasmani Grandal and right-handed reliever Pedro Baez, thus avoiding arbitration with the six-year and four-year MLB veterans respectively.

Although re-signing the 29-year-old Grandal was pretty much a no-brainer even at a lofty $7.9 million, extending the contract of Baez for $1.5 million will undoubtedly draw criticism from many Dodger fans. Even though the 29-year-old Bani, Dominican Republic native was rather efficient in his first three seasons with the Dodgers after being signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, he struggled during the 2017 season … mightily; this in spite of his impressive 2.95 ERA. However, where he really fell out of grace with Dodger fans was with his yips-like 30 to 40 seconds that he would take between pitches, which put everybody on edge. He will most certainly have to make some serious adjustments in this regard this spring, as Major League Baseball is imposing a mandatory pitch clock rule in 2018.

The new rule, which has been in play in the high minor leagues since 2015, will require pitchers to deliver the ball within 20 seconds of receiving it back after the previous pitch – this in an effort to improve the pace-of-play as set forth by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and agreed to by the MLB Players Association. During the 2017 season, it was not uncommon for Baez to take upwards of 40 seconds between pitches.

Although 2018 is Baez’s first year of arbitration eligibility and won’t become a free agent until 2021, should he continue to struggle as he did last season, he may not make it there … at least not as a Dodger.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

As for Grandal, his situation is not without controversy either. As Dodger fans know, the popular La Habana, Cuba native lost his starting catcher role to 28-year-old Fullerton, California native Austin Barnes down the stretch of the 2017 season and into the (entire) postseason; this more a result of his sub-.250 batting average than anything else. And even though Grandal is highly touted as among the best pitch framers in the game today, many feel that this isn’t even worthy of its own statistic. A pitch is either a strike or it isn’t, and the one or perhaps two calls that a so-called ‘good pitch framer’ may get over the course of a nine-inning game is of much less concern than say a couple of base hits or runs batted in.

That being said, it’s impossible to ignore the 22 home runs that Grandal hit in the 129 games in which he appeared in 2017 – tied for third-most on the team with shortstop Corey Seager and behind only 2017 NL Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger (39) and right fielder Yasiel Puig (28).

One significant advantage that Grandal brings to the table is that he is a switch hitter, something that the Dodgers are in very short supply of. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

But alas, it is probably safe to say that the re-signings of Grandal and Baez will open the door to the signing of the five remaining arbitration-eligible Dodgers (Alex Wood, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields, Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez), with spring training now exactly one month away.

Stay tuned…


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4 Responses to “Grandal, Baez avoid arbitration with Dodgers”

  1. Boxout7 says:

    I maybe the only one, but I think 29 yr old Baez (with two more years after 2018 of control) at $1.5M is a bargain. He and Alexander look to me to be our best in-house hope for that 8th inning lock down guy the Dodgers need. Here is his numbers for 2017:

    April, 9.1 innings pitched, .96 ERA
    May, 13.1 innings pitched, 1.35 ERA
    June, 11.1 innings pitched, 1.59 ERA
    July, 10.2 innings pitched, 1.69 ERA
    August, 10.2 innings pitched, 3.38 ERA
    Sept, 8.2 innings pitched, 10.38 ERA

    His career numbers, 213 IP, 3.04 ERA.

    I don’t believe anyone can argue that he doesn’t have great stuff. My hope he straightens out the September problems and is dominant the WHOLE season in 2018. Hopefully, FAZ has the kid working on the mental aspects of pitching in high stress LA this offseason.

    Baez and Jansen has the potential to be the most dominant 8th/9th inning duo in 2018 baseball.

  2. Respect the Rivalry says:

    Petey first: Just maybe having to pitch faster will benefit him, less time thinking about it.
    Grandal: His good batting numbers are in short spurts, then he falls back into bad habits. His defense is overrated. I’ve said many times what I think of pitch framing. How many PB’s did he have trying to frame a pitch.
    Austin Barnes is our catcher. He looks like Rogie Vachon (former Kings goalie) on plays at the plate.
    Trade Grandal while he has some value.

  3. Boxout7 says:

    Looks like Dodgers have 2018 contracts with all their ARB players.

    Kiki 1.6M
    Cingrani 2.0M
    Fields 2.2M
    Pederson 2.6M
    Wood 6.0M

    Fields at $2.2M makes Baez’s $1.5 look pretty good to me.

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