Last Wednesday, we learned Padres’ star catcher rookie, Yasmani Grandal, had been suspended after testing positive for high levels of testosterone.
The 50-game suspension couldn’t come at a worse time for the Padres. With new ownership seemingly committed to contending in the NL West again, Grandal was to play an integral part both offensively and defensively.
There are several ways that Grandal's suspension impacts the Padres' future, as well as his own.
A crucial piece in the trade, which sent Mat Latos to Cincinatti, Yasmani Grandal, played in only 60 games in 2012. 2013 was poised to be Grandal’s breakout season.
The switch-hitter has seen a tremendous growth curve in his short time with the Padres organization. In his short big-league stint, Grandal hit .297, eight home runs, and 36 RBI. However unexceptional these numbers seem, if extrapolated to a 162-game season, he would have 22 home runs and nearly 100 RBI. These numbers are arguably better than recently crowned Rookie of the Year, Bryce Harper’s inaugural season.
Missing about a third of the season will severely damper Grandal’s progress to live up to his potential.
It’s no secret Grandal was filling a position the Padres hadn’t seen much production from in some time. With Grandal out 50 games, the Padres will likely platoon Nick Hundley and John Baker at catcher for the first part of the season. Both players have been subpar in their career with the Padres—on both sides of the ball.
Hundley, likely to get the bulk of playing time, batted .157 with three home runs and 22 RBI in 2012. Compared to Grandal’s statistics, Hundely clearly wasn’t going to get much consideration for the starting job.
The aforementioned Nick Hundley recently signed a three-year, 12 million dollar contract. The deal makes him a very appealing trade target. As I speculated in an earlier report, the Padres could have packaged Hundley with one of their highly touted prospects to get a much-needed additional outfielder.
With the extra reliance on Hundley, the Padres can’t afford to trade him to upgrade their roster. Which is extremely disappointing because an extra bat could make the Padres a serious competitor this upcoming season.
In 2012, Grandal hit in the heart of the Padres’ lineup, providing invaluable protection to power hitters, Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin. Grandal, along with Rookie of the Year finalist Yonder Alonso, were the young studs developing with veteran tutelage.
As I mentioned before, neither Hundley or Baker can provide the offensive weapons Grandal provides for the Padres.