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Murray Monday | Is Yasmani Grandal a trade candidate?

Robert Murray



Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We’re right in the thick of the regular season, and there are plenty of things that jumped out, both from a playing and prospect standpoint, as well as one “What if?” that is sure to turn heads. Here’s what I’m thinking and hearing:

Impressive start for Josh Hader:

I’ve written about Hader in this space before, but with the way he’s performing, he’s deserving of more press.

Last year, he showed glimpses of his potential, featuring a fastball, slider and changeup combo. He finished the year with a 2.08 ERA – very impressive for a first-year player in almost 48 innings pitched. However, one concern surrounding him was walks – he walked 22 batters, while striking out an impressive 68 hitters.

This year, those concerns have been put to rest. He has turned into not only the Brewers’ best reliever, but one of the best relievers in all of baseball and has kept the number of walks surrendered down significantly, with a 56:7 K:BB ratio. What’s even more impressive is Hader’s FIP so far in 2018 is 0.77, down from 3.03 in 2017.

Hader’s future likely is in the rotation and with Freddy Peralta also getting big league time, we may be getting a glimpse of what is going to be the top of the Brewers’ rotation for the next decade.

But for now, we’re seeing what he’s capable of in the bullpen – and it’s flat-out awesome.

What does future look like for Yasmani Grandal?:

In what is arguably the most important season of Grandal’s career, he’s putting up his best season, at least statistically, since 2012. He’s hitting .270 with eight home runs, 28 RBI and 23 runs scored in 41 games.

With the Dodgers at 20-26, it’s possible Grandal becomes a trade candidate.

One talent evaluator predicted that if Grandal were to be made available that two interested teams could be the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

Houston has Brian McCann, but he hasn’t put up very good numbers this year and has hit only .200 in his last 15 games. Grandal would make sense as a potential fill in, but would Houston want to have McCann play sparingly when he’s due $17 million in 2018?

Washington may make the most sense for Grandal via trade. They have a significant need for a catcher and have little money committed to the group on the active roster. Acquiring him would also give them a leg up on Grandal as a free agent after the season, where he figures to be the best available catcher.

Where would Diamondbacks be with J.D. Martinez?

Listen, I’m not a huge fan of the “what if?” game. But it’s fair to wonder where the Diamondbacks, who sit in first place, would be with Martinez in their lineup.

Arizona attempted to try to bring back Martinez as a free agent, but were outbid in the end. Instead, the team traded for Steven Souza Jr. and signed Jarrod Dyson. However, when there was doubt as to whether Martinez’s deal with the Boston Red Sox would go through, Arizona’s front office internally discussed the possibility of pursuing Martinez again, two sources said.

One source suggests that if the deal did fall through that Arizona would’ve attempted to sign Martinez, even with Souza and Dyson on board.

With the Diamondbacks struggling now – 1-10 in their last 11 games – Arizona fans are likely wishing they had Martinez, who is finally hitting his stride in Boston (.343 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI). With Martinez, they likely win the division with ease. Even without him, they likely win it, but with their struggles now, that isn’t as much of a sure thing as once thought.

Young players to watch:

  • Juan Soto, Nationals: Only 19, his rise to the big leagues has been one for the ages. Only six weeks ago he was in low-A ball. Now, he’s in the majors and figures to make an immediate impact in an outfield that needs help. FRSSN’s Jon Heyman tweeted that a player comparison he’s heard for Soto is Tony Oliva. “For younger fans, that’d be ‘damn good,’” Heyman noted.
  • Austin Riley, Braves: Riley is a player I’ve gotten to become familiar with after watching him extensively at the Arizona Fall League. Going in, I knew little about him. Leaving, I made sure to familiarize myself with him. A Scott Rolen comparison has been mentioned among scouts. Though he is listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he stands much bigger at the plate. ‘Strong as an ox” is how one person put it. He figures to be right there with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies among Atlanta’s young core.
  • One baseball person I respect makes a good point: At some point this season, we could see Fernando Tatis Jr., Vlad Guerrero Jr and Soto all make their Major League debuts. What’s significant about that? All three are teenagers.
    • Another note on Tatis Jr: He’s having another strong year after a very good 2017 season (.278 batting average, 22 home runs, 75 RBI). One concern is batting average – only .247 right now – but his power numbers are still strong, with eight home runs early in the season. He is going to be a star.

Marlins’ Austin Dean deserving of a chance:

Miami isn’t going anywhere this year or anytime soon – that much is clear. Their big-league roster has little talent and it has left some wondering why the team isn’t giving a chance to their younger players who have earned an opportunity in the majors.

One player that has turned heads, who has earned a shot is outfielder Austin Dean.

As Craig Mish of Sirius XM pointed out, he’s hitting .333 with a .421 OBP in Triple-A. In Double-A, he hit .420. A second-round pick in 2012, the talent is clearly there.

And as mentioned previously, the big-league roster is lacking, especially in the outfield. Cameron Maybin isn’t the same player. Yes, Lewis Brinson just hit a grand slam, but he isn’t ready to be a difference maker. “Needs more seasoning,” one scout opined. And the remainder of the outfield – Dietrich, Anderson, Shuck – are a No. 3 outfielder, out of position or easily capable of being replaced.

Dean is deserving of a call-up. What’s holding the Marlins back? Puzzling.

Agent changes:

  • Frontline let go of agent Will McGuffey. It’s unclear what his future holds.
  • Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Soler recently switched representation. He is now represented by ACES.
  • Baseball agent Dan Vertlieb left TWC Sports Management and is now with Beverly Hills Sports Council, multiple sources said.

Robert Murray is a baseball writer and reporter for FRS Sports. He has written previously for MLB Injury News, Sports Injury Alert and Baseball Essential.

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