Ever since the Guggenheim Partners purchased the Dodgers in May 2012, it has made it a point to re-establish the organization in the international market. Now, two of the men responsible for most of the signings for the last three years will not be retained.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) August 18, 2015
Bob Engle and Patrick Guerrero were hired away from the Mariners in the Dodgers’ attempt to jump-start the international market for LA. This is what then-general manager Ned Colletti had to say about the hiring of Engle at in November 2012.
“‘Bob Engle and his knowledge of the international landscape is a great addition to our scouting team. Our new ownership’s directive is to strengthen the Dodgers’ scouting, both domestically and internationally. Developing future players through heightened scouting is paramount to the long-term success of the Dodgers’ organization.'”
Engle and Guerrero were responsible for landing international talent, such as:
- 2013: Alex Guerrero, Michael Medina, Johan Mieses, Bernardo Reyes, Ariel Sandoval (first 6-figure signee)
- 2014: Erisbel Arruebarrena, Romer Cuadrado, Leonardo Crawford, Yadir Drake, Felix Osorio
- 2015: Yadier Alvarez, Oneil Cruz, Pablo Fernandez, Starling Heredia, Hector Olivera
There is no doubt the Dodgers have infused the minor-league system with international free agents. They blew out their 2015 budget to sign the likes of Alvarez and Heredia knowing full well they’d be under penalty for the next two seasons. But, short of Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu (both credited to the previous international regime and Logan White), the players signed by this international scouting staff hasn’t been terribly overwhelming.
Jesse Sanchez had some more on the situation …
“The Dodgers parted ways with a significant portion of their international scouting department on Monday, including vice president Bob Engle.
Also no longer with the club are Patrick Guerrero, the Dodgers’ scouting coordinator in Latin America; Franklin Taveras, the club’s scouting coordinator in the Dominican Republic; Joseph Reaves, the director of international and Minor League relations; Rafael Colon, special advisor for international player performance; Hidenori Sueyoshi, senior manager of international scouting; and Bruce Hurst, Latin America field coordinator, a source told MLB.com. The club did not confirm the front-office changes.”
… and this quote from Guerrero.
“‘The only explanation I got was that they wanted to go in a different direction and nothing else. I understand. That’s baseball.'”
It could be as simple as that. It could be more complex. Likely, we’ll never know. Eric Stephen notes, unsurprisingly, that none of these scouts were hired by Andrew Friedman.
Trading away a guy like Olivera definitely makes getting results from the international crop a little more difficult in the immediate — a majority of these guys were signed as teenagers. But, the department has missed on guys like Arruebarrena and, to a lesser extent, Guerrero. But that’s $53 million for two guys who have a combined -0.4 WAR in 251 MLB plate appearances. Trading away Olivera also makes some kind of statement. I’m not sure exactly what that statement is, as a case could be made either way. Either the front office was able to extract value from the Braves because they were pining for Olivera before he signed with the Dodgers or the front office didn’t actually think Olivera was worth what it paid him (upon further review, i.e. after signing). Either way, it’s an interesting trade and subsequent removal of the guys who signed him.
Players like Medina, Mieses, Crawford and others have shown some ability, so Engle and Guerrero’s signings haven’t been all for naught. And the likes of Alvarez and Heredia have star potential, but they are years away from contributing.
Also, Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez remains a free agent. He’s 20 and one of the best players available. The Dodgers have been the favorites since shortly before July 2, but there hasn’t been any movement on that front. I’m guessing Engle and Guerrero being out of the picture won’t impact the Dodgers’ chances to sign Martinez (remember, all of the money), but it’ll be interesting to see if this was a factor if he ends up signing elsewhere.
As for other international free agents-to-be, well, the new staff will have its work cut out for itself. Some of these teenagers have agreed to handshakes deals as much as a year or two in advance of their signing eligibility date. These relationships are developed and built over the course of years, and ousting many of the international scouting department could have a negative impact on any relationships the Dodgers may have already built with future players. But, the folks selected to fill those vacant spots could have developed relationships of their own. I’m interested to see how the Dodgers do on the international market next year (when their spending limits are constrained). That’s when these international scouts show some of their true value.
It isn’t yet known who will take over a lot of the international scouting duties in the Dodgers’ organization, but the executives and scouts chosen will no doubt be hand-picked by Stan Kasten, Friedman and Co. There isn’t a really optimal time to make this kind of change, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise. The more surprising part is the fact they aren’t being retained at all (and even that isn’t too surprising).