The Dodgers' strategy for top prospect Cartaya

April 18th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

LOS ANGELES -- Losing Will Smith to a concussion has been a big blow to the Dodgers. Without Smith’s elite offensive production out of the catcher’s spot has significantly diminished the firepower in the Dodgers’ lineup.

The Dodgers scored just six runs over the weekend against the Cubs before putting up six runs against the Mets on Monday. They will go with Austin Barnes and Austin Wynns until Smith is ready to return, perhaps as early as Thursday in Chicago.

But once Smith went down, some people believed it might have been possible for the Dodgers to call up top prospect Diego Cartaya. Before acquiring Wynns on Sunday, Cartaya was the only other catcher on the 40-man roster who wasn’t with the big league team.

Calling up Cartaya would’ve been the easiest decision in terms of logistics. The Dodgers wouldn’t have had to clear a spot on the 40-man roster by calling up Cartaya. But the reality is that promoting Cartaya was never a realistic move, and it could’ve stunted his development, which is the most important thing for the Dodgers.

Cartaya made his Double-A debut earlier this month and is still a few years away from making an impact at the big league level. His bat could’ve played for a few days, to be sure, but stunting his development by not giving him consistent at-bats for an extended period of time just wasn’t practical. Cartaya is 5-for-24 with a homer and five RBIs in his first taste of Double-A.

With Smith going through a full workout on Monday and expected back sooner rather than later, the Dodgers made the right move keeping Cartaya down in the Minors. The Dodgers could’ve also opted to go with Hunter Feduccia, who is off to a strong start in Triple-A, but adding him to the 40-man roster could’ve been risky once the Dodgers start to get healthier on the pitching side and need to clear spots.