Dodgers should target this Hanser Alberto upgrade in free agency

Thomas Carannante
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 04: Harold Castro #30 of the Detroit Tigers makes a play during the fifth inning Mariners at T-Mobile Park on October 04, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 04: Harold Castro #30 of the Detroit Tigers makes a play during the fifth inning Mariners at T-Mobile Park on October 04, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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When the Los Angeles Dodgers declined Hanser Alberto’s $2 million team option for the 2023 season, some fans were surprised. For the last guy off the bench, Alberto offered great versatility and energy at an arguably unbeatable price.

He was also able to eat meaningless innings by taking the mound and helping preserve the bullpen. He orchestrated some of the funniest/most bizarre dugout celebrations anybody’s ever seen. His role on the 2022 Dodgers won’t be forgotten.

But the Dodgers seemingly want to go in a different direction. Alberto, Jimmy Nelson, Danny Duffy and Justin Turner all had their team options declined. Cody Bellinger was non-tendered. Tyler Anderson left for the Angels after talks with the Dodgers didn’t progress as quickly as he wanted to.

Without a star shortstop at the moment, the plan would be to shift Gavin Lux over to that position and utilize a combination of Max Muncy and Chris Taylor at second base. There’s also a need in left/center field, depending upon how the team plans to use James Outman and Trayce Thompson.

Seeing as Taylor, the Dodgers’ top utility man, might become more entrenched in a couple of roles rather than trying to man an unlimited number of them, due to the roster deficiencies at the moment, might LA look for another “last guy on the bench” option who can do it all?

If so, there’s a Hanser Alberto 2.0 out there in Harold Castro, who was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers last week.

Dodgers should explore bringing in Harold Castro as Hanser Alberto’s replacement

Castro was due ~$2.6 million in arbitration, per MLBTradeRumors.com, which would’ve been a shade above Alberto’s salary for 2023. The difference? Castro brings a ton more production and value, which makes it a bit puzzling why the Tigers opted to cut him loose.

Heading into his age-29 season, Castro, who was a part-time player for Detroit the last two years, is still an asset. He’s managed to log reps at first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field and pitcher across his most recent 226 games. Though his third base defense needs some work, he’s a good glove up the middle and can fill in elsewhere in a serviceable manner.

As for his offense, here’s how he and Alberto compare over their last two campaigns:

  • Castro in 2021 – .283 with a .669 OPS, 87 OPS+, 35 runs scored, 3 HR and 37 RBI in 106 games
  • Alberto in 2021 – .270 with a .693 OPS, 86 OPS+, 25 runs scored, 2 HR and 24 RBI in 103 games
  • Castro in 2022 – .271 with a .681 OPS, 98 OPS+, 37 runs scored, 7 HR and 47 RBI in 120 games
  • Alberto in 2022 – .244 with a .623 OPS, 70 OPS+, 13 runs scored, 2 HR and 15 RBI in 73 games

Not to mention, Castro was putting up totally solid numbers as a part-timer on a downtrodden Tigers squad, which ranked toward the bottom of the league in the most important offensive categories the last two years.

Put him in a lineup protected by some of MLB’s best hitters, and conventional wisdom suggests there will be more output. His defense is undoubtedly better than Alberto’s. His energy? Not sure about that, but the trade-off with on-field production might outweigh that intangible trait.

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