The Dodgers have agreed to sign outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, according to Manolo Hernandez of beisbolporgatas.com (via Twitter). He’ll earn $2.6MM and can tack on another $400K in incentives, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link).
Soon to turn 34, Gutierrez has revived his career over the past two seasons with the Mariners after a variety of health issues had derailed him. In addition to suffering a series of injuries, Gutierrez had struggled to play through gastritis, a stomach condition.
Making his return to the M’s in 2015, Gutierrez posted a stunning .292/.354/.620 batting line with 15 home runs over his 189 plate appearances. That earned him a MLB deal with Seattle for the 2016 campaign. While he wasn’t quite as good, Gutierrez posted a strong .246/.329/.452 slash and popped another 14 long balls.
There are some limitations, of course. Once an everyday player, Gutierrez was used almost exclusively against left-handed pitching last year. Historically, he has been much better against southpaws, too. And despite his former status as a top-quality defender in center, Gutierrez rated most recently as a subpar fielder in a corner spot (though metrics took a more optimistic view of his glovework in 2015).
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For the platoon-happy Dodgers, Gutierrez figures to occupy a similar role as a weapon against lefties. His addition certainly complicates matters for the remaining options on hand. Scott Van Slyke and Darin Ruf figure to compete for space on the Opening Day roster (barring injury) as a part-time first baseman, corner outfielder, and/or bench bat, while players such as Trayce Thompson and Brett Eibner may be on the outside looking in.
Though he has long been associated with the Mariners, this is something of a homecoming for Gutierrez. He started his career with the Los Angeles organization, though he never suited up for the club at the major league level. According to Hernandez (via Twitter), the Giants were the other finalist for Gutierrez, perhaps suggesting that the Dodgers’ NL West rivals are still looking to add to their own corner outfield mix.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.