Mailbag #23: Olivera TJ, July 2, Guerrero/Uribe, Rollins

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Ron Gotcher: Wouldn’t it make sense for the Dodgers to just go ahead and put Olivera under the knife right now? That way, we can still get use out of Uribe while he is recovering.

I don’t think so. There’s not usually a benefit to a guy undergoing any surgery unless it’s really necessary. I have concerns about his elbow holding up over the life of the contract, but if he can play at the level he’s accustomed to and isn’t in pain, there’s no need for him to have surgery. While he isn’t yet signed, he’s going to need a little time in the minors (a month or two) to get reacclimated to game action and to have his version of spring training. If he has surgery now, he’ll be out until next spring training. That will have been roughly 2.5-3 years of him not playing competitive baseball. That wouldn’t bode well for anyone involved.

Ken M.: Does the Olivera or Fernandez signings change your mind on the Dodgers spending big on July 2nd? Are Heredia, Alvarez, and/or others still in the mix for the Dodgers to sign? What about this Maitan cat from Venezuela? Do they skip and wait for him now?

Not in the slightest. Hector Olivera projects to be a quality everyday player, while Pablo Millan Fernandez has draw comparisons to Padres’ starter Odrisamer Despaigne. Fernandez isn’t going to be a big-time starter, whereas Yadier Alvarez has a chance to be that. Also, don’t sleep on the Dodgers going after Vladimir Gutierrez, either. Starling Heredia won’t cost as much as those guys, but he’s looking at a $3-plus million payday come July 2, which is more than the $2,020,300 the Dodgers are currently allotted (they can trade for up to 50 percent of that amount from other teams). It’s hard to make a splash in the international market — as currently constructed — without going over the bonus limits. They contemplated doing so for Yoan Moncada (and even offered him $35 million if he waited until July 2) but ultimately passed. These mid-to-late-20s Cubans aren’t going to deter the Dodgers from going big.

Neither Olivera or Fernandez counted toward any signing bonus pool — this year or next — because of their age and professional experience in Cuba. I could conceivably see them ending up with Alvarez, Heredia and Gutierrez — plus any other bonus pool-eligible international guys who might become available before June 15, 2016. As for Kevin Maitan, who has drawn the Miguel Cabrera comp — I don’t think the Dodgers would sit by for another year just for the chance to negotiate with Maitan. He isn’t eligible to sign until July 2, 2016, and the Dodgers would be missing out on a ton of talent available this year. There is something to be said for going after elite talent (I’m all for it), but in this case, it makes sense to make the splash now on guys who will be able to help the Dodgers sooner. Plus, I think the Dodgers really like Alvarez.

Luis: First things first…you guys are awesome! Thanks for basically the best Dodgers blog out there! What I want to ask is how comfortable you guys would you be with the idea of Uribe and Guerrero switching roles? Uribe is great with glove and has pretty good pop and guerrero seems like he can be consistent with the bat!? Anyway thanks for any feedback! Keep it up!!

“Yes, we are the best,” Chad, probably. Juan Uribe is the starter. As long as he’s half-way competent on offense, no amount of hitting Guerrero does could displace Uribe. Odds are, Uribe won’t make it through the whole season healthy (118 games played on average the last two years), so Guerrero (and Justin Turner) should get ample time at third base this season. Guerrero hasn’t been a complete dumpster fire at third base this spring, but that also isn’t the best of endorsements, either. The new front office values defense, and almost no one plays a better third base than Uribe. Guerrero has some value to the team, and it looks like they might actually get some of that this season. But Guerrero isn’t ready to be a full-time third baseman in the majors — and he may never be.

Drew: If the team feels like Either has figured something out and is going to be an adequate OF, do they consider trading Crawford? They could rotate Either, Van Slyke, Heisey and Guerrero through LF, playing whoever is hot. Does Crawford have any trade value other than salary relief?

Despite Andrew Friedman’s existing relationship with Carl Crawford, I don’t think he’d hesitate to move him if the right deal came along. Crawford does have more trade value than Ethier, but both are owed so much money over the next three years (Ethier $56 million, Crawford $62.25 million) that it’s going to be tough to trade either of them. Crawford also has health concerns (110 games played on average the last two years) and is limited to left field. At least Ethier can handle right field, even if his arm is below-average there. If a team wants to make a deal for Crawford, I could see it happening. It wouldn’t be great in terms of return, but there would be at least some salary relief. The Dodgers have enough — as you pointed out — to make up for Crawford’s lost production (don’t forget Scott Schebler), so if the Dodgers can find a sucker taker, I’d be all for it.

Kirk Davenport: obviously premature….but what if Jimmy Rollins finds the fountain of youth, has a great year, anchors a dynamite DP combination with Kendrick, is a leader on and off the field. Do you bring JRoll back for a few years more and maybe have Seager go to 3B, or do you go with the Kendrick extension, Seager at SS and possibly Olivera at 3B. Most likely JRoll will show his age and make this moot.

You’re right. Odds are, this isn’t going to happen. But in case it does, it’s a tough decision. Rollins is a shortstop, so he wouldn’t move to second base. The Dodgers really want to keep Corey Seager at shortstop for as long as possible. Some think he needs to move now, some think he can last a few years at short. But with the Olivera signing, someone is going to be the odd man out, and it isn’t going to be Seager. Yes, Seager will be entering his age-22 season and isn’t a shoo-in for shortstop in 2016, but with an impressive spring showing and a likely assignment (at some point) to Triple-A Oklahoma City, odds are he won’t have a lot left to prove/work on in the minors in 2016. You only bring back Rollins if you think Seager needs another year in the minors. Otherwise, Rollins goes (no matter how good a season he has), the Dodgers stick Seager at shortstop, Olivera at third base and figure out second base — either a Howie Kendrick contract extension, a Darnell Sweeney/Enrique Hernandez/Darwin Barney amalgam or something completely different. I’d bet on Kendrick getting extended before anything else. I just don’t see Seager moving to third base just yet.

Rand Horiuchi: hatchers a bum vs ravin

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About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.