The Dodgers are trying to trade infielder/outfielder Alex Guerrero and are “talking to numerous teams” about the 29-year-old, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). As Rosenthal notes, Guerrero’s best fit would likely be with an American League club, as he’s not a gifted defender despite having appeared at multiple spots on the diamond between the Majors and minors over the past couple of seasons.
Guerrero signed a four-year, $28MM contract out of Cuba prior to the 2014 campaign, but he’s yet to live up to the expectations that came with that deal. He’s slated to earn $5MM in 2016, and it’s certainly worth noting that if traded, Guerrero would gain the right to opt out of the remaining one year and $5MM on that contract in order to test the free-agent market. Certainly, there’s motivation for the Dodgers to find a trade partner, as Guerrero’s contract stipulates that he cannot be optioned to the minor leagues without his consent, and the team already has an abundance of infield and corner outfield options on its roster.
Last season, Guerrero tallied 230 plate appearances with the Dodgers and showed very good power but a questionable approach at the plate, resulting in a .233/.261/.434 batting line and 11 home runs. At least some of the struggles could be tied to inconsistent playing time, as Guerrero was used sparingly — never starting more than 18 games in a month (May) and only starting as many as 10 games in one other month (June). Nearly a quarter of his plate appearances came as a pinch-hitter, and it’s easy to imagine that role being difficult on a hitter — particularly one that lacks experience against Major League pitching.
Guerrero was a career .303/.386/.528 hitter in Cuba and showed reasonable plate discipline there, though he walked at just under a five percent clip in his brief time in the minor leagues as well, so his lack of free passes isn’t unique to the Majors. Then again, Guerrero proved to be a potent bat in 308 minor league plate appearances, as his .333/.373/.621 triple slash played a significant role in his quick ascent to the big leagues. He’d likely have had more minor league development time were it not for a truly bizarre instance in May of 2014 that saw then-teammate Miguel Olivo bite off part of Guerrero’s ear in a dugout altercation, sidelining him for nearly six weeks.
Guerrero was a shortstop in Cuba, but the consensus among scouts is that he can’t handle the position at the Major League level. He’s seen quite a bit of time at second base in the minor leagues and has spent the entirety of his Major League career at third base and in left field, though he has fewer than 225 MLB innings at either position.
A team acquiring Guerrero would be taking on something of a project — a former Cuban star whose role in Major League Baseball is uncertain. He’s shown flashes of power but could prove to be a low-OBP asset with a questionable glove. The price, from a financial standpoint, is quite appealing, however, and there’s certainly reason to believe that if he hits for a better average, that could boost his OBP up to a passable level when juxtaposed with his power. For a team with limited financial resources and some needs in the infield — the Indians, Angels and, to a lesser extent, the Royals all come to mind for me — there’s some sense in exploring the potential of adding Guerrero to the fold if the cost of acquisition is limited, as one would expect.