The Dodgers could certainly use an upgrade at catcher, but focusing their resources on a starting pitcher is the better plan.
J.T. Realmuto would really improve the Dodgers’ options at catcher in 2019. Unfortunately, the Marlins continue to demand an outrageous price for their star backstop. That’s why it’s smart for Los Angeles’ front office to focus their efforts on acquiring an ace starting pitcher this winter.
MLB.com is reporting that a deal for Corey Kluber is more likely for the Dodgers than a trade for Realmuto at this point in time. It’s unlikely that Los Angeles can pull off trades for both players this offseason. If they are successful in their bid to bring in Kluber, it likely signals the end of their chase for Realmuto.
The Dodgers didn’t have a weak starting rotation in 2018, but adding Kluber would be a serious upgrade. He’d instantly become the team’s co-ace alongside Clayton Kershaw. Provided Kershaw can stay healthy, that would give Los Angeles a formidable playoff rotation to compete with any other group in baseball. Trotting Kershaw and Kluber out for the first two games of a serious would be a huge advantage for the Dodgers.
The price required to obtain Kluber is a concern for the front office. Any package heading to Cleveland would almost certainly need to include Alex Verdugo. His inclusion in the trade would give the Indians a player capable of immediately boosting their lineup in 2019. Verdugo plus a premium prospect should be enough to fetch Kluber.
That doesn’t mean the Dodgers can ignore the catcher position though. Assuming Yasmani Grandal doesn’t re-sign, they still need to find a starter out on the open market. A defensive specialist like Martin Maldonado would be a great choice. He’s not a great hitter, but his ability to frame pitches would be huge boost to the entire pitching staff.
The reality for the Dodgers is they need to make a move to consolidate talent this offseason. Using their surplus of outfield talent to acquire Kluber should be the organization’s top priority. They can always return to Realmuto discussions if the Indians make outrageous demands, but Cleveland appears to be much more reasonable than Miami at the moment.