Dodgers 40-Man Roster: Contemplating the Organizational Depth at Catcher

Tulsa Drillers catcher Will Smith (10)
(Shane Roper/MiLB)

As quiet as the offseason has been so far, one of the main focuses of the Dodgers management crew is trying to snag an experienced catcher for the upcoming campaign. Many thought Wilson Ramos, who recently signed a two-year pact with the Mets, was a perfect fit, despite his intentions to remain on the East Coast. But even if Los Angeles is able to land a gem via trade or free agency, what would happen in the event of an injury?

Perhaps the more important question lies in determining whether or not 28-year-old utility man Kyle Farmer is ready for extended duty behind the dish at the major league level. His bat is certainly capable, but although he caught 29 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City last season, he saw action at catcher in just four games over two seasons in the big leagues.

Certainly, Farmer profiles much better as a utility type who has the ability to serve as a backstop option in the event of an emergency, which adds to his value. Many wonder why the Georgia native is even lingering on the 40-man roster, but it could be for this exact reason. Others are saying that the Dodgers are hanging onto Farmer and Rocky Gale in case they don’t add an experienced catcher, but the reality is that the situation could conceivably worsen in the event of an injury of a new acquisition, or even if something unfortunate happens to Austin Barnes.

Just a few weeks ago, Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group asked Andrew Friedman about the future of the club’s highly touted catching prospects. Friedman surprisingly stated that he expects 23-year-old Will Smith to make an impact in 2019 with the big league squad. He added that crown gem catcher Keibert Ruiz is a bit farther behind, implying that 2020 may be more realistic.

Despite these arrival estimates, Ruiz is on the 40-man roster and Smith is not, at least for the moment. The good news for Smith is that he can also capably field both second and third base, but the bad news is that the Dodgers have quite the surplus of utility infielders already in Max Muncy, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor to move around the infield. So, my guess is that Smith may be utilized solely for his catching duties in 2019, if Friedman’s ETA is indeed accurate.

In spite of Ruiz’s many accolades, some pundits still have Smith with the higher ceiling. Smith is a significantly better athlete than most catchers, with many scouts giving him plus grades for his speed and quickness, much like Barnes. Smith has much better arm strength, though. His transfer is impressive, as he consistently delivers throws to second base in 1.9 seconds or less. He moves very well behind the plate and is often praised for his receiving skills. When hitting, Smith uses a compact right-handed stroke that enables him to make contact with ease. He’s more of an on-base machine than a power threat, despite his 20 long balls in the minors last year.

Beyond Smith and Ruiz are Diego Cartaya and Connor Wong, whose presences illustrate just how deep the Dodgers are at catcher on the farm. According to MLB Pipeline, Cartaya is ranked as the 11th best overall system in the system while Wong is rated as the 16th best. We took a closer look at Cartaya just a few weeks ago.

Still, all the depth does the Dodgers no good right now at the big league level. Either way, 2019 may see a bit of restructuring in the Dodgers’ catching department, as we could finally see a trade—in the event of a deal for a star catcher—or maybe somebody like Smith will finally be given a chance to climb to the higher levels of the organizational ladder.

Regardless, keeping a potential injury(s) in mind, it stresses just how important it is for Los Angeles to somehow snag a catcher who’s able to productively contribute right now—both offensively and defensively.

 

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20 thoughts on “Dodgers 40-Man Roster: Contemplating the Organizational Depth at Catcher

  1. It will be an interesting spring training to see if one of these young guys makes a statement to stay. I’d like to see what Farmar can do behind the plate. There’s obviously something they don’t about him.

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  2. Smith an on base machine? Well, he’s going to have to prove he’s better at it than his brief stint at AAA last year.

    I’d be fine with Barnes and Farmer, or Smith for that matter, splitting time behind the plate next year. They all hit 8th and we win the West again. I have a feeling that isn’t Friedman’s plan.

    Bear’s point about Harper not putting us over the top is well made. We didn’t beat the AL representatives the last two years because in crucial situations our pitching failed us. Kershaw and Jansen did not close the deal when it mattered. And… Darvish. As it looks now, I don’t see us beating whoever ends up winning the AL pennant. Right now we are favored to win the NL again and all we’ve done is add McQuackenkelly. Though signing Harper seems to go against all things Friedman, I have a gut feeling he wants to do something splashy this time. Oh, I believe he will still seek out the McCarthy’s and Kazmir’s that are suspended below the surface, but methinks an out of character “look at us” move is coming.

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    1. I think there are a few X-factors next year that may potentially pay dividends. First, if Seager comes back healthy and ready to contribute, his presence in the No. 2 hole will be huge. additionally, I believe 2019 will tell us what kind of pitcher Kershaw will be into the future. Maybe 2018 was an anomaly on an otherwise brilliant resume—we’ll see. The same can be said about Kenley—will he be able to return to form? Also, with a full year of David Freese in the clubhouse, his influence may actually be able to spread around even more.

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    2. 1) Muncy, Rios, Peters, Gonsolin/White, Wong for Haniger. That gives us a right handed power hitting everyday outfielder who, although he doesn’t have the star power, might have almost as good a career over the next 5 years as Harper. I’m hoping the sheer quantity will overcome any concerns DiPoto might have about the quality he’s getting.
      (and no Scoop, you can’t make a comment about not being sure if that trade is White or Wong)
      2) Wood and his buddy Farmer for Cervelli.
      3) Smith, Puig, May for Kluber

      OK, I’ve had my fun. If Andrew would make a trade, I wouldn’t have to do this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Creative Jefe. There’s no White or Wong here. It’s the off season and we’re all off a bit. Some maybe more than others. Throw ‘em out there. Some stick, most fall off the wall.

        One question – what makes you think Haniger is on the market? If we had an every day outfielder that plays D, clobbers both side pitching and was team controllled for 4 more years would you trade him? Actually two questions – what are you going to do with Verdugo?

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      2. Everybody is available Scoop, it’s just a matter of negotiating price. I admit that if I were DiPoto I would probably laugh at my offer but as I said, I was hoping that the sheer volume of it would blind him. Haniger in right. Verdugo in center, Belli to first. I’ll throw in Joc or Toles on my Haniger offer and the one that remains will platoon in left with Kemp. Don’t spend any money on Harper, sign LeMahieu. That gives us a great fielding infield. Then take some more of Harper’s money and sign Britton or Miller. Starters CK, Kluber, Buehler, Hill, Ryu. Bullpen Kenley, Kelly, Miller/Britton, Baez, Maeda, Cingrani, Floro/Alexander. Urias, Ferguson, Santana begin the year in OKC as starters. Bench – Freese, Kike, CT3, Barnes/Cervelli, Joc/Toles/Kemp. Oh, and we can add Alvarez to any trade where it would help. And to think, I don’t even get paid for this (or maybe this is why they don’t pay me).

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      3. Everybody’s is available Bear.

        While believe that in theory (everything has a price) I don’t believe it in the practice. Certainly not in MLB. Kershaw wasn’t available. Seager wasn’t available. Apparently neither was Urias. Buehler better not be available. I don’t know about others, but the way I see it is any prospects not rated in the Top 10 probably has a price. And, Top 10 or not, if your #1 prospect is blocked, then something needs to be done. I believe we are there with Verdugo.

        This is an interesting time for the Dodgers. At least it could be. It should be. We know why we came up short 2 straight years. Are we content with winning Divisions? Are NL Pennants good enough? Are we going to go for it? Stand by.

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  3. No ne here believes Muncy is for real. He had a better year by far than Hanniger and you’re giving up 4 additional good prospects. I’d keep Muncy. He may not have a 950 OPS again but he still will rake

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    1. Actually Rich, I certainly don’t expect Muncy to totally crash but I also don’t expect another year like last year. I do expect him to be a good MLB player. Chances are he won’t be traded and I hope you’ll be able to call me on this one when he’s our MVP next year. I really like the guy. I just much prefer Bellinger to Muncy at first and I’m not thrilled with playing him at second. If someone could convince me he could play left field decently I’d be all in.

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  4. Cardinals close to signing Miller. Murphy joins the Rocks and will be playing 1st base most of the time. Anibal Sanchez to the Nats, Cahill to the Angels. Things starting to move……except Ol Andy

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    1. Those signings make sense for those teams. Sanchez is a solid mid rotation starter. On that team he will be at the back end. Miller feels like a risk after a year of injuries and for him mediocre numbers. He projects to rebound. Murphy will hit in Colorado. Yeah, things are beginning to warm up a bit. The big news might not happen for a while. Holidays coming up. No rush. Some things can wait.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My favorite Dodger teams were always loaded with home grown guys. They would get the pieces they needed through trade. But the main part of the team was home grown. That’s one reason when a guy like Gonsolin, who was in his first pro season perform like he did, I do not want to trade them.

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  5. I like Murphy, but he can’t play second any more, and we already have three first basemen on the 25 man. He is going to tear it up in Colorado, if he can stay healthy. Good signing for the Rockies, our main competition in the west this coming season.

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    1. Murphy only played in 91 games last year as he had an injury, but he played a majority of his games at second base. In 71 games he made 6 errors. That’s not bad. He is going to play 1st base for the Rockies because that is where the need is. if Harper were a catcher I would say , go get him, but he is a lefty hitting outfielder and we do not need another one.

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  6. With Miller most likely on his way to the Cards, that only leaves Britton as an upper class southpaw and he may very well go to the Phillies since they’re getting desperate for relievers and he has that connection with the Orioles front office which is now in Philly. Anyone here up for trying to get Will Smith from Farhan? He had a nice year in 2018 and I think we could use him. I wonder what it would take?

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  7. If farhan makes any kind of a deal with the dodgers, he will have to appear to have won the trade, or the giants fans will revolt, thinking there is some kind of conspiracy going on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The last trade between the Dodgers and Giants happened in 2007. The Dodgers got Mark Sweeney for a minor leaguer. There have only been 3 trades between the teams since the Dodgers moved to LA in 1958. The most remembered one, and the one most remember was when C Tm Haller was dealt to LA. I think one reason they are not trade partners very often is because of the Jackie Robinson trade after the 57 season, and instead of playing for the Giants, Jackie retired. Biggest name going to the Giants was probably Candy Maldonado. But that has not kept either club from signing former members of the enemy.

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      1. Random Thoughts:

        I remember when Juan Marichal became a Dodger He was 0-1 with a 13.5 ERA. I also remember Duke Snider in a giants uniform. Yeesh.

        In 1949 Duke led the league in strike outs with 92. For Chris Taylor that’s accomplished by Father’s Day.

        Hey, December 21st. It’s now winter.

        In 1994, my first winter in Wisconsin, we were parked a quarter mile out on the lake, sitting in chairs ice fishing, enjoying a beautiful sunny day. My girlfriend looks at me and says “hey, it’s the first day of winter”. I laughed as winter had actually set in months ago. The lake had been frozen thick enough to drive trucks on it for weeks. Then I cried because I knew winter in NW Wisconsin would last until late April. Only 4 months to go. Wisconsin is a beautiful place. But I do not miss the weather there.

        And here? Just another day waiting for the Dodgers to do something of note.

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