Is The O’s Next Second Baseman a Free Agent This Offseason?
We all know about the biggest second baseman on the market, the one who will likely receive the biggest free agent contract this offseason. Heck, he’s likely to receive the biggest contract for a second baseman ever. That free agent is Robinson Cano, but he’s not likely to be a target for the Orioles.
For better or worse.
Outside of Cano the free agent market for second basemen seems fairly barren. Ben Zobrist will have his option picked up, leaving names like Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Omar Infante, and Alexi Casilla as some of the options.
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None of these names sounds all that exciting, but then again the internal options aren’t exactly awe-inspiring either. Ryan Flaherty figures to play into the picture in one way or another. I’ve even argued that a platoon of Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty wouldn’t be terrible. This however is understandably not very inspiring for O’s fans.
This could all add up to a dip into free agency, in hopes that someone out there can fill the black hole that has been second base in Baltimore for the past 8 years or so.
Do any of those names mentioned above inspire any confidence? No? Well, I might have the perfect solution for the O’s fan that loves to dream…
The O’s next second baseman should be Alexander Guerrero. What’s that? You’re not familiar? Let me give you a quick overview:
Guerrero is a Cuban free agent who is 26 years old and has fled Cuba to pursue a career in Major League Baseball. He’s a SS by trade, but will likely move to second base in MLB. His defense will be somewhat of a surprise to MLB clubs as nobody is quite sure how he’ll do moving to another position.
However, his bat is solid and projects for quite a bit of power. Just check out his triple slash from 8 years in Cuba’s top league, .302/.387/.527. To put that in perspective, an ISO of .225 would put him in the top 15 in MLB, while a .527 slugging percentage would place him in the top 10 in the league.
Guerrero was initially tied to the Dodgers, and you can find a more robust scouting report here. For your viewing pleasure I’ve included his promotional scouting video here:
While I doubt that Guerrero will hit .300 in the major leagues, I think he could hit for a respectable average while delivering 20-25 home runs. Imagine that kind of performance out of an Orioles second baseman.
Originally the Dodgers had a pact with Guerrero for 5 years and $32 Million. That comes out to roughly $6.4 Million per season. This deal however fell through, and bidding for the Cuban infielder is wide open again. Jon Heyman has mentioned that there are several teams interested, though there seems to be a discrepancy in the duration of the contract. Guerrero wants a 4 year deal that would allow him to hit free agency in time to land another big/long contract. Teams however want more length so that they can spread out his money over a longer period of time AND reap more of the benefits should he become a solid regular (or better).
The Orioles could pursue Alexander Guerrero and offer him a contract that would work for both the team and player. Perhaps something near what the Dodgers originally offered. If the O’s could land a top 7 second baseman by offering a deal of 5/$30 Million to Guerrero, would that be something the club would consider? At $6 Million per season, that deal wouldn’t crush the team if it didn’t work out, and Guerrero would only need to produce about 1.5 WAR to be worth the contract (depending on the value you place on WAR). There’s a great opportunity for the club to gain excess value, but also $30 Million in guaranteed money for the young Cuban star.
There’s obviously significant risk in signing Guerrero, who’s numbers in Cuba are impressive, but could be misleading. He could come over and be a $30 Million flop.
He could also become an all-star, providing pop in the lineup and a reliable glove in the field. For a team that wants to make a deep playoff run, Alexander Guerrero is exactly the type of risk you need to take.
Jeff was the owner of the Orioles blog Warehouse Worthy, which focused on making advanced statistics a part of the conversation for the average fan. Outside of baseball, Jeff is a graduate of Loyola University where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration. The Maryland native currently works for an Advertising Agency in downtown Baltimore. Previously a contributor to Beyond the Boxscore, he joined Baseball Prospectus in September 2014. You can reach him at [email protected]