Monday, October 21, 2013

Dodgers continue international splash by signing Guerrero

Just three days after being ousted in the NLCS by the Cardinals, the Dodgers are already back to work in upgrading their club.

In what has been rumored for most of the season, the Dodgers officially signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million deal today.  Based on plate appearances, that total could get bumped up $1 million per season, topping out at $32 million. 

While it's very early to project just how good of a player Guerrero will end up being, it looks like a good signing on a few different levels.  For starters, as we saw in the NLCS, the Dodgers really need to find ways to improve their offense up and down the lineup.  While a healthy Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez obviously make a big difference, the book on Guerrero is that he has plenty of power and speed on the bases.  So, if he pans out, that's a huge plus.

It also means that the days of Mark Ellis being the full-time starter would appear to be over.  I'm not saying that he has no value, because if you watch the amount of games that I do, you have to respect how hard he works in the field and at the plate.  But, the bottom line is that in 126 games this season, he hit .270 with 6 homers, 48 RBIs, and 4 stolen bases, which are not exactly eye-popping numbers.

What Ellis did have was a great glove, as his .989 fielding % ranked eighth in all of baseball at second base.  He only committed six errors all season in 533 total chances.  And we all know that in the National League, having a great defense is big if you want to win, so while Guerrero has been described as having a good glove, he'll have to prove it.

The last reason this will probably turn out to be a good signing has to do with a guy not even on the Dodgers, and that's Robinson Cano.  Magic Johnson alluded to not signing Cano towards the end of the season, but with management's reputation for throwing a whole lot of bucks at the big names, it was hard to believe the door was closed.  Now I think the door might only be open a slight crack, if at all.

It's hard to blame Ned Colletti for being aggressive in the international market based on the success of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig this season.  Plus, we all know of the strong history of international players in Dodger history, from guys like Fernando Valenzuela, Hideo Nomo, and Chan Ho Park.  It's worked before, and it can work again.  Guerrero can make that happen.

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