We’re just about into the thick of the trade season, and two things are about to happen. One, the Dodgers absolutely positively will find a way to get a starting pitcher, whether that’s Johnny Cueto or Scott Kazmir or Cole Hamels or Jeff Samardzija or possibly even more than one. Since no one thinks they’re really going to trade Corey Seager or Julio Urias, that means they’ll have to come up with other pieces of value to trade.
Two, with Carl Crawford about a week away from returning from his injured oblique, and Hector Olivera returning to game action in the minors as he rehabs his hamstring, the roster crunch we’ve been talking about for so long — but have avoided due to injuries to Crawford, Yasiel Puig, and Scott Van Slyke — is nearing. Someone has to go, and while Enrique Hernandez seems the obvious choice because he can be optioned, a lack of a backup shortstop behind Jimmy Rollins would be a clear problem.
All of which brings us to Alex Guerrero, the man without a position or seemingly much of a future in Los Angeles, and therefore the name brought up most often as a solution to both of those issues.
Let me stop you right there. Despite all that early-season thunder in his bat, Guerrero has extremely little trade value, certainly not enough to be more than a throw-in in any deal. Regular readers probably know this, but let’s understand why just in case:
- The defense. Guerrero hasn’t seen third base since May 24, and it now seems pretty likely we’re going to get to two solid months without him being there. (Yes, I remember that on June 25, he was briefly penciled in for a matinee in Chicago before moving to the outfield when Puig was scratched with that blister.) He hasn’t played a single major league inning at second. He hasn’t played a single major league inning at short. The odds seem reasonably good that he’ll never play third again. He’s clearly not seen as an infielder.
Of course, left field hasn’t exactly been kind to him either. You know I would never, put faith in defensive metrics over a span of just 204 innings, but in this case, yeah, that -24.7 UZR/150 feels right. It’s hard to see an NL team wanting to sign up for that. An AL team is more palatable, though even then, a DH-only type is limited.
- The contract. This is well-known at this point. He can’t be sent to the minors without his permission, and if traded, Guerrero could opt out of the remaining two years and $10 million owed to him. That sum’s not a big deal, but it is a lose-lose for any acquiring team. If he’s traded and he’s great, then he’s certainly opting out. If he’s poor, well, then that’s a player maybe you wish you didn’t have. This is a situation where the player has all the power and the team none, which limits the appeal.
- The bat. I know. This is the one thing that’s supposed to really set Guerrero apart, and for a while, it did. That April! Wow, that April. Except…
April: .423/.429/1.077 (28 PA)
May-present: .216/.244/.392 (131 PA)
It’s been more than a month since his last extra-base hit, a double on June 3 in Colorado. He’s drawn only five walks all year long. The popular argument is that his irregular playing time limited his ability to “get in a groove,” and I’m willing to not discount that entirely. But it seems far more likely — especially given how many more plate appearances he’s had since April than in it — that pitchers have simply figured out his weaknesses. It’s probably not a coincidence that he’s been seeing more fastballs and fewer breaking pitches each month.
None of which is to say that Guerrero isn’t useful to the Dodgers, because we’ve all seen that power, and a large part of his adventures in the outfield can (hopefully) be chalked up to inexperience there. But when other teams with something to sell come asking around, they’re not just going to be looking at that impressive season-long 117 wRC+. They’re going to be looking at the entire package. It’s just not worth that much.