I don’t really play fantasy baseball any longer, but when I did, at various times over the last decade, I’d inevitably end up with Mark DeRosa on my team. Remember him? DeRosa was never a star, and he was rarely even a starter, getting more than 500 plate appearances in a season just four times in a career that spanned from 1998-2013. Those four years were 2006-2009, and that’s easily his peak, since they were also the only four years that he hit double-digit homers (topping out at 23 in 2009) or reached even 1 WAR, touching 3.9 in 2008.
Even at his best, he wasn’t holding down one position. Here’s how DeRosa’s games started totals looked during those four years:
2B:194 3B:179 RF:113 LF:42 1B:10 SS:4
That made him tremendously useful in fantasy terms, because he was eligible nearly everywhere and came with enough bat to get by — he actually scored 103 runs in 2008. Needless to say, I always drafted him, probably long after I should have. But it also made him pretty valuable in the real world, because his teams could have him start for a few weeks or months as needed at second, third, or right, and have him available as a multi-positional type with something of a bat off the bench the rest of the time.
If you’re wondering why in the world I’m talking about a veteran utility type who never played for the Dodgers and retired more than a year ago, well, it’s because I’ve been thinking about Alex Guerrero lately, and what in the world his role is going to be now that Howie Kendrick is around and any chance of Guerrero platooning with Dee Gordon at second is gone.
Guerrero can’t be sent to the minors. His trade value is limited, because he can reportedly declare free agency at the end of a year in which he’s traded, but since it’s his choice, that means that can also just hang on to the contract he has if he hasn’t outperformed it. He hasn’t shown he has the defensive chops to handle any position on a full-time basis, and even if he did, there’s no obvious starting spot for him with the Dodgers — in part, perhaps, because the men who signed him in the first place are no longer calling the shots.
…and yet: the bat seems like it’s real. Guerrero hit .333/.373/.621 in the minors this year, and while there’s obvious PCL inflation in there, he came with a bat-first reputation in the first place and actually hit better away from Albuquerque. He’s 28 and has nothing left to prove in the minors, offensively. What’s left is a chance in the majors, and while his defense could use more time in the minors, contractually that’s not an option.
So what’s left? A sell-low trade, perhaps, but if he’s still around, I don’t hate the idea of having a guy who can fake it at multiple positions with a bat that could potentially be plus. The 2014 Dodger bench was already a good one, with Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke leading the way, and to add Guerrero could potentially make it very good. I don’t imagine “starting once or twice a week at second and/or left and then being a pinch-hitter” was what he had in mind when he left Cuba, but for a variety of reasons (Miguel Olivo being a criminal, Gordon having a career year), that’s perhaps how it works out.
If anything, the main impediment to this is that the Dodgers do have Turner, another backup infielder who can’t play short, but one who can play second and third better than Guerrero — although I don’t have high hopes for Turner to repeat his 2014 offensive performance. That might require Darwin Barney make the club as Jimmy Rollins‘ backup at shortstop, and it’s almost impossible to see Turner, Guerrero and Barney on the same roster. (Barney does have options remaining, adding some flexibility.) So perhaps the real end game here is that Guerrero gets pawned off for little return just to allow everyone to move on, or maybe he’s included as a secondary piece in whatever trade is coming next.
Maybe that’s for the best. This hasn’t worked out the way anyone hoped it would. I still like that bat, however, and if there’s any way the team can find a way to make it useful, I’d love to see it work out.