Heading into the 2018 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers starting catching job was wide open as Austin Barnes replaced Yasmani Grandal down the stretch and in the postseason the year prior.
Barnes was not able to replicate his 2017 success during Spring Training and the first month of the season though, so by the end of April, Grandal had reclaimed his starting position.
Grandal carried the Dodgers offensively during that time, batting .315/.402/.551 with four home runs and 20 RBI. He had plenty of ups-and-downs after that, but it amounted to a pretty solid offensive season for the 30-year-old.
Grandal was able to avoid the disabled list all season, playing in a total of 140 regular-season games while hitting .241/.349/.466 with 24 home runs, 68 RBI and 65 runs scored.
Unlike 2017, Grandal began the postseason with his starting job still intact, although that did not last long. Not only did he struggle at the plate, but he also made a few key mistakes defensively against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first game of the National League Championship Series.
Because of that, Barnes once again took over and started six of the Dodgers’ final eight postseason games.
Grandal went just 4-for-29 in the postseason, striking out 15 times while drawing five walks, to go along with a double and home run.
On Aug. 1, the Dodgers faced the Brewers at Dodger Stadium in what wound up being a preview of the NLCS. The Dodgers trailed 2-0 in the fifth inning, and Brewers starter Chase Anderson had not allowed the first 12 hitters he faced to reach base.
Grandal changed that as he led off the fifth with a home run to cut the deficit to 2-1. Brian Dozier then followed with a home run of his own in his team debut to quickly tie the game at two.
The game was tied at four after nine innings, so when Grandal stepped to the plate with a runner on first in the bottom of the 10th, he had a chance to end it. That is exactly what he did as he launched a two-run, walk-off home run down the line in right field to give the Dodgers a 6-4 victory.
Grandal hit free agency at the conclusion of the 2019 season, and a return to the Dodgers is believed to be unlikely. Los Angeles is still without a starting catcher in place though, so re-signing back Grandal can’t completely be ruled out, especially if his market shrinks.
Since Grandal rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, if he signs elsewhere in free agency then Los Angeles will receive a draft pick as compensation.