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Dodgers 2018 spring training primer: Catchers

By in Press Enterprise on February 6, 2018

By Bill Plunkett

As the Dodgers head toward the first workout of spring training on Feb. 14, we are providing a breakdown of how they stand with their roster. This is the final installment, following looks at the rotation, the bullpen, the infield and the outfield. This week, the catchers:

2017 RECAP

Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes combined to give the Dodgers the third-highest OPS (.822) and slugging percentage (.480) from the catcher spot in the major leagues. Grandal tied for third on the team with 22 home runs, but he slumped over the final two months of the season. In his first full season in the big leagues, Barnes established himself and improved as the season went on. More subtly – but perhaps more importantly to the front office – they also combined to give the Dodgers elite-level pitch-framing behind the plate.

HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOW

Grandal’s second-half slump offensively and a major-league high 16 passed balls led to a late-season change in the depth chart. Barnes took over as the primary catcher, starting 13 of the Dodgers’ 15 postseason games. Grandal can become a free agent next winter and he will certainly be motivated to gun for a big contract. But Manager Dave Roberts’ preference was made apparent by his lineup decisions last fall and the distribution of playing time in 2018 – Grandal made 113 starts during the regular season last year, Barnes only 49 – figures to slide more in Barnes’ favor. “That was a decision we made because Austin was playing better,” Roberts said recently of the postseason lineups. “I know Yasmani is coming here and expecting to win his job back. They both look at it as a competition, and that’s a good thing.”

THE NEXT LAYER

Kyle Farmer got a taste of the big leagues last year […]    

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