Monday, December 16, 2013

Dodgers might need a 2B if Alexander Guerrero isn't ready by opening day

Alexander Guerrero was signed to be the Dodgers' everyday second baseman, but he hasn't looked like that so far this winter. Not because of poor performance -- he's hitting .289/.325/.447 -- but because he hasn't played that much (40 plate appearances).

Guerrero, 27,  suffered a hamstring injury in early November, sat out nearly three weeks, came back and seemed to reaggravate the injury last week. He totaled just five at-bats in the last three games. With him being such an unknown, the Dodgers can't go into the season with Guerrero expected to play 140-plus games at second base, can they?

The Dodgers lost their insurance policies in Mark Ellis after he signed a 1-year deal with the Cardinals on Sunday, and Nick Punto, who has long since signed with Oakland. The Dodgers probably won't acquire a big-name second baseman (i.e. Howie Kendrick), but a guy who's capable of playing 80-100 quality games at the position could be in order. The only problem is, there aren't a ton of those guys available -- either on the free agent market or via trade.

Here's my best guess as to who the Dodgers could land to help out at second base.

Free agent

Trade

Of the free agents, Turner has already been mentioned. Other guys I like from that list include Carroll, Getz, Izturis, Roberts and Santiago.

Carroll is a former Dodger and a little long in the tooth. He's been pretty poor since leaving the Dodgers after the 2011 season. He plays multiple positions, but he might not be a 100-games-played guy anymore.

Getz has a light bat and is exclusively a second baseman, but he does a couple things well. He doesn't strike out a lot (9.1 percent) and he's a really good basestealer (82.8 percent success rate).

Cesar Izturis is a personal favorite of mine. He's always been a plus defender and is adept at all three infield positions that aren't first base. His bat isn't much, but if the Dodgers are looking for a quality defensive backup, he might fit.

Roberts is the most interesting guy here. He was a budding star for the Orioles before injuries got the best of him. He's also deal with concussions in recent years, so that's always going to be an issue. He's 36 and has the best offensive upside of anyone on this list. He's strictly a second baseman, but also owns a .279/.349/.412 career slash line, which would be a nice complement to Guerrero's uncertainty.

Santiago is another multi-position infielder with a light bat. He's basically interchangeable with Carroll, Gets and Izturis.

Of the trade targets, it's obvious Franklin is the best. The Mariners signed Robinson Cano, so they're looking to move Franklin for some kind of upgrade elsewhere. Perhaps some kind of Andre Ethier-for-Franklin swap could be had. Acquiring him would likely mean Guerrero starts the season in the minors. When he's ready, the Dodgers can figure out what to do with Franklin after that. He'd be a nice trade chip come July.

Bonifacio and Callaspo are similar players. Both can play multiple infield positions, with Bonifacio being able to handle center field. Callaspo is the better offensive player, while Bonifacio is the better runner. The Royals don't have a great second base option, so Bonifacio might not be available right now. Callaspo figures to get a lot of playing time with the A's, but he's a little redundant with Punto on board. Acquiring either of these guys might not be likely (Callaspo more likely than Bonifacio), but either of them would fit nicely into a bench role for the Dodgers.

Maicer Izturis is similar to Callaspo, but there's no indication the Blue Jays are looking to move him.

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There are options out there. They're not terribly appealing, but they're out there for the Dodgers' taking. None of these guys -- outside of Franklin -- would cost a lot to acquire. I'd really like to see the Dodgers sign a guy like Roberts, despite his injury concerns. He's a solid defender who might have a little bit of offensive ability left in his bat.

If they don't acquire a second baseman -- with the way the roster is currently constructed -- Dee Gordon could be the team's starting second baseman in Australia on opening day. Yikes.

I'm still on board with the Guerrero signing, but with the injury concerns in winter ball and the lack of playing time over the last 18-24 months, it'd be a surprise if he were to open the season as the Dodgers' starting second baseman. Being an older signee actually works in his favor. A good spring training could change that, but a stopgap is probably more realistic at this point.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

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