The Padres are becoming more aggressive in marketing catcher Yasmani Grandal on the trade market, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Previous reports have indicated that the interest in San Diego catchers is strong, with Grandal, Rene Rivera and top prospect Austin Hedges all said to be generating calls.
The 26-year-old Grandal had a slow start to his 2014 campaign but finished quite strong with a .242/.356/.440 batting line in 222 second-half plate appearances. Despite playing his home games in the pitchers’ haven that is Petco Park, Grandal swatted 15 homers, tying him for eighth in the league among backstops. He also rates as a solid pitch-framer, though ESPN’s Keith Law (who also hears that San Diego has become more aggressive in trying to move Grandal) tweets that he still has work to do on his receiving skills, as Padres pitchers preferred throwing to Rivera.
Grandal is controllable through the 2018 season. The switch-hitting former top prospect has yet to string together a consistent run of success in the Majors, but he has the talent to do so and should be an attractive trade chip in an offseason environment that is exceptionally thin on catching options. While Hedges isn’t ready to take over as the everyday catcher just yet, Rivera’s surprising emergence last season likely makes it easier to shop Grandal. The team doesn’t necessarily need to move him, but it’s possible that the Friars feel Grandal’s value is near its peak due to his strong finish, his remaining team control and the dearth of available catching options. Moving Grandal appears to be be a more palatable option than entertaining offers for controllable arms such as Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner.
Some teams that have been linked to catching upgrades include the White Sox, Dodgers and Cubs, and the Rockies are known to have been looking for improved catcher defense as well. The Cubs do have Welington Castillo behind the dish, and I’m personally of the mind that they were interested in Russell Martin specifically rather than catching upgrades in general