Paul Sancya/Associated Press
When the Dodgers gave Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero a four-year, $28 million deal last October, it was widely assumed that the 27-year-old would be the team's starting second baseman in 2014.
Mark Ellis' club option was declined soon after, reinforcing the thought that Guerrero would be able to make the successful transition from shortstop on the Cuban national team to big league second baseman.
This has not been the case, however, and all indications are that the second base job is up for grabs. Guerrero may start the season in Triple-A where he'll continue to work on his defense and try to get back into a groove offensively after missing the entire 2013 season.
While Guerrero is working hard this spring, as manager Don Mattingly recently acknowledged, per USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz, Dee Gordon (pictured), Chone Figgins, Miguel Rojas and Justin Turner each have a legitimate shot at claiming the job.
The 25-year-old Gordon, the lone remaining candidate on the 40-man roster, appears to be the front-runner at this time. The left-handed-hitting speedster began to play second base last season in an attempt to increase his versatility after he struggled to show enough ability to stick as a big league shortstop.
There are also plans for Gordon to play in the outfield, although he could focus primarily on second base if he begins to separate himself from the pack in this competition. He's 3-for-12 so far this spring with two triples and two stolen bases.
Rojas, a 25-year-old career minor leaguer, is probably the best defender of the bunch, and he also has four hits in his first nine spring at-bats. He has a .589 OPS in eight minor league seasons, though, so he's unlikely to fool anyone with a strong performance at the plate this spring.
Figgins is trying to make a comeback after sitting out the 2013 season—he failed to make the Miami Marlins last spring. The 36-year-old is far removed from several MVP-caliber seasons with the Angels, which preceded a disappointing three-year stint in Seattle.
He's a long shot, at best, although his capturing of a roster spot would be one of the best storylines of the spring. The switch-hitter is 2-for-11 to start the spring.
Turner has a leg up for a bench spot if the Dodgers opt to send Guerrero to the minors for regular playing time. Don't count the former Mets utility man out for the starting second base job, though, as he could sneak his way into the starting lineup with a solid camp. The 29-year-old has four hits, including a pair of doubles, in his first 12 at-bats this spring.
Prediction: Gordon gets another chance to prove he can do more than just steal bases as he's anointed the starter late in camp. Guerrero will start in the minors, where he'll get at least six weeks to work on his game, and Turner will lock down a bench job. Figgins will retire after being released, and Rojas will join Guerrero in Triple-A.