Having already benefited from the success Yasiel Puig has had since his arrival in the Major Leagues, the Los Angeles Dodgers might be close to signing another Cuban defector according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Sanchez reports that the team is close to finalizing a five year, $32 Million deal with infielder Alexander Guerrero.
A deal could be completed before the end of the week.
Guerrerro has primarily been a shortstop throughout his career with Cuba’s top league, but profiles more as a second baseman in the Major Leagues as he doesn’t really have the range or first step quickness to make an effective shortstop long term. He’s been known more for his offensive potential. Guerrerro hit .290/.402/.576 in 328 PA during his last season in Cuba.
Despite his offensive prowess, Guerrero was left off of Cuba’s roster for this past World Baseball Classic – prompting him to publicly express his unhappiness. He’d defect from the country shortly thereafter, establishing residency in Haiti and holding workouts in the Dominican Republic. Guerrero had been cleared by Major League Baseball in last July but was unable to obtain the necessary approvals from the U.S. Government until last this past week.
Scouts have mixed expectations for Guerrero. Some believe that he’ll need some time in the minor leagues first, perhaps starting at Double-A in the Spring. Others appear to think he could be MLB-ready out of Spring Training. Either way, his signing may dictate how the Dodgers view their second base position this coming offseason. Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe are both approaching free agency (though Ellis’ contract does contain an option for 2014) and the team could easily allow both to walk. The Dodgers have long been speculated as a potential suitor for the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano, but presumably a deal with Guerrero would take them out of that discussion.
The Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves were also believed to have interest in Guerrero. The Cincinnati Reds were also reportedly in the mix. It’s unclear how aggressive any of these other suitors were in negotiations, as the Dodgers have been the expected favorites ever since they attended one of his workouts over the summer.