The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed tp sign second baseman Alexander Guerrero, a Cuban defector with no American professional experience, to a four-year, $28-million contract, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, with a handful of confirming reports.
Itr’s a mysterious signing. Guerrero’s name has been attached to the Dodgers for months, but very little has been attached to Guerrero’s name. He’s 26 years old, and has played shortstop and second base as a professional in Cuba. The consensus, though, seems to be that he fits best at second base.
It remains to be seen what kind of player Guerrero is. It remains to be seen how well his skills will translate to Stateside baseball. It remains to be seen whether he will be immediately ready to play in the big leagues, or require minor-league seasoning. It reamins to be seen, frankly, whether the Dodgers are committing to a long-term second baseman, or just throwing money around.
General Manager Ned Colletti could do a bit worse than to start making head fakes like signing young Cubans for $28 million. He chose his target well here. Whether Guerrero pans out or not, the Dodgers now have a name, a magnet to slap over second base when projecting their lineup into the future, even Opening Day 2014.
That’s important, because the Dodgers are rich, and aggressive, and everyone knows it. With Robinson Cano headed for free agency at season’s end and Brandon Phillips being shopped fairly openly, that makes Colletti a mark for the peddlers and the con artists that, on the baseball player market as in every market, lurk around every corner. Guerrero gives L.A. leverage, an out, a reason not to spend the extra $40 million on Cano. He also keeps the Reds and Brewers and Braves from coming running with their bad contracts for aging second baseman, hoping to dump them on the Dodgers while extracting talent.
It should be more than that. Spending $28 million is a pretty bold misdirection play, even in baseball circles, and even for the Dodgers. Guerrero is well-thought-of, and likely to carve out a career here. He’s the same age and got roughly 80 percent of what Yoenis Cespedes did before 2012, so although his value comes from a different place and the hype is wholly different (i.e., less), he’s more than a bargaining chip, more than leverage. It’s not as though the Dodgers need him to blossom into a star. They need role players, guys who fit well and can simply complement the stars already on the roster. Guerrero seems likely, at least, to be that.Next post: 2013 World Series: The Connections, the History, and Why You Should Watch
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