Dodgers avoid arbitration with Yasmani Grandal, others; trade Micah Johnson to Braves

Photo: Dustin Nosler

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with all their eligible players on Friday, marking the 10th consecutive year there will not be any hearings to determine a player’s salary.

The last time the Dodgers went to an arbitration hearing was 2007 with Joe Beimel, a hearing in which the Dodgers won (thanks Kim Ng!).

I wrote about the Dodgers’ arbitration-eligible players back in October, giving my thoughts on who the Dodgers should or should not tender contracts to (as well as their estimated 2017 salary).

Yasmani Grandal (4.115) – $5.3 Million
Alex Wood (3.123) – $2.0 Million
Luis Avilan (3.166) – $1.5 Million
Josh Fields (3.092) – $1.2 Million”

“Grandal is obvious (despite people who think otherwise for comical reasons), as is Wood. Grandal will be the starting catcher and Wood could easily find himself back in the rotation. Avilan had some solid moments (including leading baseball in exit velocity against), and Fields has enough stuff and potential to be interesting. In Avilan and Fields, the risk is so minimal ($2.7 million) that the reward far, far outweighs it.”

Louis Coleman (4.018) – $1.5 Million
Chris Hatcher (3.146) – $1.4 Million
Scott Van Slyke (3.151) – $1.3 Million”

“All three of these guys could be decent contributors, but there are a lot of question marks. Coleman is basically a right-handed specialist without premium stuff, and he wore down a bit during the season. Van Slyke dealt with injuries in 2016 and ultimately had wrist surgery. SVS has long since been compared to Jayson Werth, and if he is non-tendered and goes on to be successful, the comparison will continue to be apt. Comparisons aside, the Dodgers struggled so much against left-handed pitching that having a healthy Van Slyke and a chance that he goes back to mashing them might be worth the 40-man roster spot (the money is inconsequential). Hatcher has some really good stuff, but his command was iffy for a second consecutive season and he dealt with some injury issues of his own. For $1.4 million, the Dodgers could probably do worse for a middle reliever (not a late-inning, high-leverage guy), but I’m not expecting him back.”

This doesn’t include Chin-hui Tsao (who was released) and Yasiel Puig (who decided to take the guaranteed money in his deal). It also doesn’t include Vidal Nuno, who was acquired after the initial post was written (and Chad wrote about Nuno avoiding arbitration on Tuesday). Finally, Coleman was non-tendered and signed a minor-league deal with the Reds.

Grandal got $200,000 more than MLB Trade Rumors predicted, while Fields actually got $150,000 less than predicted. MLBTR was right on with Avilan and just $25,000 off on Nuno. Hatcher got $150,000 less and SVS got $25,000 more when they agreed to terms back on Dec. 1.

The biggest discrepancy was with Wood, who got $800,000 more than MLBTR predicted. Eric Stephen was onto this one, though, as he predicted a $2.65 million payday for Wood. While not being an expert on the situation, I also thought $2 million for Wood was a bit low.

Circling back to Grandal, it seemed like he was a prime candidate for a contract extension. He’s two years away from free agency and turned 28 in November. He’s one of baseball’s best catchers and is primed to make a lot of money in the next handful of years. I’m guessing the Dodgers explored an extension, but perhaps Grandal didn’t want anything to do with it — as is his prerogative. He’s betting on himself, which is a pretty good bet. Still, his avoiding arbitration doesn’t mean an extension couldn’t be reached at some point.


Also, this happened.

Micah Johnson, who was designated for assignment when the Dodgers officially re-signed Kenley Jansen on Wednesday, was sent to the Braves. Despite a gaping hole at second base, the Dodgers didn’t think Johnson was one of the answers. Not surprising seeing as he was one of the final call-ups in September and really didn’t hit well for the OKC Dodgers.

I was expecting more out of him when the Dodgers acquired him in last winter’s 3-way trade with the White Sox and Reds.

“Johnson, 25 today, has good bat-to-ball skills and can take a walk, but he doesn’t have a ton of pop. He’s a lot like Peraza in that regard. The fact he bats left-handed allows him to utilize his speed better than Peraza could from the right side. I like his offensive profile more than Peraza’s. Johnson does draw criticism for his defense. His mechanics aren’t the smoothest and his hands won’t be mistaken for Dee Gordon or Ian Kinsler anytime soon. Because of his average-at-best defense at second, a move to center field could be in his future. This front office loves versatility, but for now, the Dodgers will probably keep him at second to see if he can work through his issues.”

Johnson just didn’t hit enough to be considered for the second base platoon. He isn’t a defensive specialist, so that diminishes his value as well. Honestly, he didn’t have much of a place on the 2017 Dodgers, but the Braves are taking a chance on his past prowess and athleticism.

The only remaining player the Dodgers have from the Todd Frazier trade is Trayce Thompson. To be fair, though, Frankie Montas was integral in acquiring Rich Hill at the trade deadline. So regardless, the trade was a win for the Dodgers, even if Thompson’s back doesn’t stop being broken.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.