Where Does Alex Guerrero Fit In for the Dodgers?
The $28 million dollar question is where and when do the Dodgers play Alex Guerrero in 2015? With Andrew Friedman behind the wheel, the Dodgers will most likely look within the organization for talent before signing any free agents including Hanley Ramirez. Even though Alex Guerrero’s contract wasn’t cheap at four years when he was signed by the Dodgers, he hasn’t been ready to play in the Majors with consistent success yet. With an increased focus on player development, I see the Dodgers working to further develop Alex Guerrero’s versatility as a player.
Alex Guerrero during Spring Training 2014. Photo: Stacie Wheeler
The 27-year old Guerrero played in 11 games for the Dodgers during his brief September call up. He only had one hit with 6 strikeouts in 13 at-bats for the Dodgers. I don’t think that’s any sort of sample size to gauge his talent especially since his his minor league year was interrupted by the crazy ear biter Miguel Olivo during a scary fight in the Isotope dugout. Alex was able to play 65 games for Albuquerque, and he hit .329/.364/.613 with 15 homeruns and 49 RBIs.
Guerrero isn’t exactly a rookie, and he was very successful as a shortstop in Las Tunas. It seems as though there is a pervasive opinion that Guerrero’s defense is not up to par yet. Guerrero only pinch-hit and played left field in three games for the Dodgers, but he played mostly second base with brief time at shortstop and left field in Triple-A. After watching Alex Guerrero work out during Spring Training 2013, I never questioned his defensive abilities. You can see Alex Guerrero taking grounders alongside Dee Gordon during Spring Training in the video I took last year at Camelback Ranch. Guerrero and Gordon both look quite capable at second base.
After seeing Alex Guerrero live, I thought he had a chance to make the team for Opening Day 2014. Back then I had no idea Dee Gordon would have such a breakout season in 2014. Gordon looked great in Spring Training, and he was kind enough to sign my daughter’s baseball to her delight. Perhaps that was just a glimpse into the future All-Star’s fabulous season. Imagining Gordon not only improving at the plate, but also being able to play an entirely new position, didn’t seem plausible. Of course Gordon would prove to be a spark for the Dodgers through most of the season with a surprisingly solid defensive year at second base.
With Gordon’s emergence as a viable second baseman, where does that leave Alex Guerrero? I feel sticking him in left field isn’t the answer especially since the Dodgers are already backlogged on outfielders. Guerrero is a natural middle infielder, and the Dodgers should play him at shortstop or second base.
As you can see from his stats while playing with Las Tunas of Cuba’s Serie Nacional, Guerrero had some pop in his bat and hit 102 homeruns over 8 years.
Offensively, Guerrero’s potential power from the middle infield is highly desirable by the Dodgers especially if they choose not to bring back big bat Hanley Ramirez. While not as defensively sharp as Miguel Rojas or Erisbel Arruebarrena, who really have much better range at shortstop, neither Rojas or Arruebarrena could offer as much offensively as Guerrero.
With a stock pile of outfielders and a question mark at shortstop, the Dodgers could go with Guerrero, Arruebarrena or Rojas at shortstop next year if they don’t want homerin’ Hanley back. If the Dodgers don’t sign Hanley, I just don’t see them going with Guerrero exclusively at shortstop unless they plan to play him at short exclusively this Spring. Guerrero would probably fit best at second base for the Dodgers, although shortstop shouldn’t be out of the question. I’m sure Friedman is exploring all scenarios this offseason as he shapes his new roster.
Of course all this conjecture is ahead of any possible offseason trades by Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers’ future general manager. Dee Gordon has been included in possible trade rumblings, but I doubt the Dodgers would move him unless Guerrero impresses this winter. Gordon’s All-Star season in 2014 gives him the seniority going into Spring Training.
With Guerrero on the books for $4 million next season and a clause in his contract which states he can choose to become a free agent when he turns 30 years-old, the Dodgers have to find a way to utilize Guerrero at the Major League level in 2015. Guerrero also has a clause in his contract which doesn’t allow the Dodgers to send him to the minors after 2014 without his consent. With Corey Seager in the wings, it is even more pertinent to try to fit Guerrero into the immediate mix.
Guerrero just recently purchased a $2.5 million lakefront home in the exclusive Windmill Ranch Estates in Weston, Florida this month. Perhaps he used some of his $10 million signing bonus he received from the Dodgers.
The Dodgers can’t afford to pay Guerrero millions to play in the minors. With the new focus on player development, the Dodgers should decide on where Guerrero fits on this team. If Hanleywood is shutting down, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an infield consisting of Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Alex Guerrero and Juan Uribe for Opening Day 2015.