Here’s what passes for a mystery as we enter the last week of October, waiting for the World Series to conclude (go Royals!) so that the offseason can get moving: What does Alex Guerrero‘s contract say about what happens if he’s traded? We know that he can’t be sent to the minors without his permission starting next year, but there’s a certain amount of confusion about the possibility that if traded, he can declare free agency at the end of the season.
This all stems from a single tweet by Ken Rosenthal back in August:
Alex Guerrero can become FA at end of his four-year deal with #Dodgers after 2017, and also at end of any season in which he is traded.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 23, 2014
I don’t always agree with Rosenthal’s analysis, but as far as reporting and fact-gathering goes, he’s among the best in the business. But the thing is, this is the only place we’ve seen that. It’s not, so far as I can tell, contained in a story Rosenthal wrote. It wasn’t on Cot’s until today, and now it is. It hasn’t been mentioned by any of the local beat writers. It’s difficult to even find another example of a player having such a clause, though Clayton Kershaw appears to also.
So I asked around. Dylan Hernandez said he’d check into it. Rosenthal said he had “no reason to believe it wasn’t” true, but that he’d check back into it again after the World Series. I’m leaning towards it being true, but at the moment, we don’t know with certainty.
And this is a big deal, obviously. Guerrero’s defensive skills are still an enormous question, and I’m not even talking about the laughable proposition that he can play shortstop — the team wouldn’t even let him get a token inning at second in September. We talked this morning about the possibility of selling high on Dee Gordon, but that only works if Guerrero can handle second base. If he can’t, he’s… what? A bench bat without a position? A part-timer who can’t field anywhere? I still believe in his bat, but that’s not a great path to success.
The bat, however, gives him value, and if the team is happy with Gordon, you could see the possibility of trading Guerrero (and money) to an American League team that could use him as a hybrid 2B/OF/DH type. Maybe that’d get you a decent reliever, or maybe it’d be as part of a larger package. But if that clause is in place, that significantly impacts his value, because it makes him a six-month player. Considering his defensive limitations, that’s a problem.
Of course, there would still be a small possibility that if 2015 doesn’t go well, Guerrero would rather just keep the 2/$10m he has guaranteed rather than test the market. But whatever the outcome is on this clause, there’s no clear path for Guerrero. It’s hard to see him starting for the Dodgers in 2015. If the clause exists, it’s hard to see a realistic trade.
Welcome aboard, Andrew Friedman!