Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal ponders his future free agency next winter
If Jonathan Lucroy cannot find a job this winter, will Yasmani Grandal be able to find one next winter?
Grandal, the Dodgers catcher, is making $7.9 million this season, his last before free agency. Lucroy, a two-time All-Star catcher, is unemployed amid this winter’s free-agent freeze.
“I wouldn’t want to be in his spot,” Grandal said Thursday. “He’s put up numbers. He obviously deserves to get his contract done.
“I’ve seen guys who have signed for a lot of money and haven’t quite done exactly what he’s done.”
Welington Castillo signed with the Chicago White Sox for two years and $15 million. None of the other four free-agent catchers to sign major league contracts got even $5 million per season.
Grandal said he did not necessarily believe collusion was at work, citing the possibility that clubs were saving to bid in a free-agent market next winter that could include Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
“It’s a huge year,” Grandal said. “You’re going to have some of the best baseball players possibly ever coming out into free agency. Everybody probably wants to have the chance to take a shot at them. That’s my theory. I’m not 100% on it. I don’t know what everybody is thinking.”
Grandal is 29, two years younger than Lucroy. The Dodgers have options at catcher, with Austin Barnes and Kyle Farmer on the major league level, and top prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.
As a switch-hitting catcher with power and an exceptional ability to frame pitches, Grandal figures to draw interest, even if the Dodgers do not try to retain him. However, he is concerned about how effective he can be if teams wait to see how low the market might go.
“I wouldn’t want to be two weeks into spring training and not know where I’m going,” Grandal said. “As a catcher, I want to sign as early as I can sign so I can start doing my homework on everybody I need to get accustomed to and start building those relationships, whether it’s texting somebody or making calls or whatever you need to do.
“If you end up signing by the end of spring, you’ve had no reps, and you haven’t built those relationships.”
In the unlikely event he does not get a job, he said with a smile, his wife is a nurse.
“Luckily for me, my wife has a really good job,” he said. “So, if I don’t sign, she can still support us. And I’ve invested my money really well, so I could pretty much sit at home and not think about it too much.”
Kenley Jansen could barely sleep Wednesday night. He was another victim of the illness that has infected the Dodgers clubhouse. His body ached. His head ached. He had chills.
“Changed clothes like four times last night,” he said Thursday.
The Dodgers closer felt well enough to report to Camelback Ranch for his scheduled bullpen session Thursday. Manager Dave Roberts said “more than a dozen” players were sick and out of camp Thursday, including Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Austin Barnes, Enrique Hernandez, Chase Utley and scheduled starting pitcher Ross Stripling.
The Dodgers had the clubhouse sanitized.
Jansen said he is not scheduled to appear in a Cactus League game until March 9. He got his work in, then left Camelback Ranch around noon to get some rest.
“A little fatigued,” he said after his workout, “by having whatever is going around.”
The Dodgers’ bid for the 2020 All-Star game took a step forward Wednesday, when the Los Angeles City Council agreed to negotiate a contract in which the team would pay $100,000 for the costs the city would incur should the Dodgers be awarded the game. The Council motion did not provide an estimate of what the actual costs might be but called the flat fee “appropriate” given the potential economic benefit.
The All-Star game is set for Washington this year and Cleveland next year. The Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are considered the leading contenders for the 2020 game. Commissioner Rob Manfred said last year that he probably would announce the hosts for 2020, 2021 and 2022 at the same time.
The Dodgers last played host to the All-Star game in 1980, the Cubs in 1990. The Angels, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants all have hosted two All-Star games since the Dodgers last hosted one.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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