While the promised free-agent frenzy has still not yet materialized, yesterday the Dodgers signed Hanser Alberto to a one-year contract with a club option for another year.
In his last three seasons, which is when he started getting regular playing time, the 29-year-old Alberto has put up a .292/.315/.411/.725 slash good for a 92 OPS+. He doesn’t strike out much (11.7% career), but he doesn’t walk at all (2.4% career) and has shown limited pop.
That said, his value comes in his versatility, which the Dodgers are known to prioritize. Alberto has played extensively at second, short, and third, where he figures to take over a super utility role of sorts that becomes more important should the Dodgers tie down the DH spot with potential signings (like Freddie Freeman and/or Nelson Cruz). He has also played all those position at a well above-average clip by both DRS and UZR.
Additionally, while not necessarily a threat off the bench — though he does have a career .815 OPS against lefties — a slightly below-average hitter is still a massive upgrade compared to the collection of free outs the Dodgers had to run out off the bench at the end of last season. The four-headed monster of Billy McKinney, Sheldon Neuse, Luke Raley, and Steven Souza Jr. put up a whopping .163/.239/.285/.524 line with a 44 wRC+, so Alberto was almost literally twice as good as them last year, and an improvement from -2 WAR to 1 WAR is as impactful as getting an All-Star to replace an average regular.
While the monetary terms have not been made available yet, it’s hard to ever go wrong with a one-year deal and a team-controlled option year, unless the price is absurd. The same applies here for Alberto, who is not a sexy signing, but is one that could provide as big of a boost as any over last year’s squad due to his versatility and … well, his ability to avoid being absolutely atrocious.