When Yasmani Grandal was acquired as part of the package that the San Diego Padres received for Mat Latos, great things were expected of him. Grandal had become one of the Cincinnati Reds top prospects, hitting at a .305/.401/.500 rate across three minor league stops in 2011. That performance was enough to put Grandal amongst the top 100 prospects by Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus before the 2012 season.
Grandal appeared to cement himself as the Padres catcher of the future that year. Starting the 2012 season with the Tuscon Padres, Grandal posted a .335/.443/.521 batting line with six home runs in 235 plate appearances. Promoted to San Diego, Grandal kept hitting, posting a .297/.394/.469 batting line with eight home runs in his 226 plate appearances with the big club. The future certainly appeared bright.
Then, 2013 happened. First, Grandal was suspended for the first 50 games due to failing a PED test. When he came back, Grandal struggled before suffering a torn ACL, ending his season. Back and healthy in 2014, Grandal continued to struggle. Since that promising 2012 season, Grandal has only hit at a .224/.332/.389 rate. If not for his 16 home runs in that time, Grandal would have been useless at the plate.
Of course, it is one thing to have a catcher who cannot hit in the lineup if they happen to be a great defensive presence. After all, look at how many games the Rays gave Jose Molina. Unfortunately, Grandal is not that either. Grandal led the National League in passed balls last season, despite having only 76 games behind the plate. He has also been useless in the running game, throwing out a mere 13.3% of baserunners over the past two seasons.
At this point, it may well be in the Padres best interests to trade Grandal. Rene Rivera may not have been an exciting player to watch, but he performed reasonably well with the bat, hitting at a .252/.319/.432 rate. Perhaps more importantly, Rivera was actually useful defensively, ranking among the league leaders in assists, runners thrown out and caught stealing percentage.
Even if Rivera is not the future of the position, he may be good enough to serve as the Padres primary catcher for a couple of more seasons, holding down the fort until a prospect like Dane Phillips might be ready.
Grandal is still young enough where he may turn his career around. He may still have some of that prospect shine left to his name, although it has been three years since he was a highly thought of catcher. If a team is willing to give the Padres a proven player, such as a Matt Kemp, for Grandal, it just makes far too much sense for the Padres not to make the move. Yes, Grandal could still become that player they expected, but that day may never come.
The Padres best option is to trade Yasmani Grandal. He appears to need a change of scenery, and the Padres could get back some desperately needed pieces. Looks like a win-win situation.