MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Possible Destinations for Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero fell to the Orioles right at the end of free agency on a one year deal for $5 million with another $3 million in deferred payments. While it was a steep price, Guerrero is a sure thing for the Hall of Fame and is still one of the most potent bats in the league.
Guerrero is certainly not the player he was in his prime years in Montreal and Los Angeles, but teams will certainly take a look at him at the deadline, especially since the Orioles will most likely be sellers.
Guerrero has many pluses for whoever does want him. He is coming off of a terrific game against the Nationals (which I was lucky enough to attend), where he went 1-for-4 with a clutch two-run homer in the seventh that brought the Orioles from down one to up one. The one run lead stood up and gave the Orioles a series win against their Beltway rival.
Beyond the heroic game yesterday, he is hitting .309 with five home runs and 19 RBI in the cleanup spot for the O's. He is still the same free swinger that he has always been and has continued to back up his reputation as the best bad ball hitter in Major League history.
The negative on Guerrero is his fielding.
His legs aren't there anymore, so his range is extremely limited. He was known for having one of the strongest arms in the outfield, which is likely still there, but he hasn't had a chance to show it off. These defensive shortcomings will likely scare away all 16 NL teams, limiting his market to the 13 AL clubs.
Here are five teams that could use his bat and will be in discussions with the Orioles at the trade deadline.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
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The Blue Jays are playing very good baseball right now, mostly because Jose Bautista has exploded and started mashing the ball all over the place. The only problem is pitchers are pitching around him and he's getting walked all the time, so they can't take advantage of his incredible power.
There's a big hole for the Blue Jays at DH. Even when Adam Lind returns from injury, Juan Rivera will be the DH. Rivera just isn't cutting it with a .228 average and slugging just .331. Plugging Guerrero in behind Bautista would quickly change the outlook of the lineup. The Jays are also a team that likes to swing away, so Guerrero fits into the mindset.
The question is whether or not Toronto will be buyers to make a push for the postseason. If they are in the race, they may be in for a battle with the rest of the division for Vlad's services.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
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The Tampa Bay Rays came into the season hoping to have Johnny Damon play left and Manny Ramirez DH every day, but plans changed when Manny tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and retired to avoid suspension. Sam Fuld jumped into left and impressed by hitting pretty well and shining on defense and on the bases.
Unfortunately, the league has adjusted to Fuld and he has failed to keep up, hitting just .155 in May so far. The Rays would love to keep him in the field, but if his offensive struggles continue, they could be the market for a new left fielder or a DH to push Damon back into the field.
It's hard for me to imagine the Rays going after Guerrero because of the price tag. They took a chance on Manny because it only cost them $2 million, but Guerrero makes over twice that, so Friedman will more likely try to fill the need internally or look for a cheap, undervalued replacement, such as Michael Morse.
3. Oakland Athletics
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The Oakland A's already have a serviceable DH in Hideki Matsui, and like Guerrero, Matsui can no longer play in the field. As a result, acquiring another DH would cut down the at bats for one or both of the hitters significantly.
A platoon at DH could help the A's lineup though, as Matsui is hitting much better against righties than lefties. The only problem is that Vlad is too. Either way, the A's need help to jump-start their lineup, which is 25th in runs, 26th in average and 29th in home runs. A power bat like Vlad could mean the difference in the AL West, which looks like it will be a close race.
The A's need to keep up with the Rangers' power, which will be really tough as the Rangers got Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton back from injuries. Vlad could shake things up for a floundering offense.
2. Seattle Mariners
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The sad thing about the Mariners is that they have such terrific pitchers, but no one to help get them wins offensively. Felix Hernandez is following his Cy Young season with similar stuff and Michael Pineda has emerged as another potential ace at the top of the rotation.
Doug Fister has an ERA under three and Jason Vargas has turned in a couple of good starts lately before getting hit hard by the Twins. Erik Bedard has started to look more like the pitcher the Mariners traded the farm for a few years ago (ironically, they traded their talented Minor Leaguers to the Orioles).
Jack Cust just isn't cutting it. He is getting on base very well, but isn't a good runner. His real problem is his lack of power, as has been known in the past as a power guy (he was featured in the Mitchell Report), but he only has one home run while slugging .321. Vlad takes the pressure off of young players like Mike Wilson and Carlos Peguero.
Even without offense, the Mariners are just a game and a half behind the Rangers, so they are very much alive. Calling up Ackley and acquiring Vlad makes them a contender in the AL West.
1. New York Yankees
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The Yankees are definitely not offensively challenged, with monster production from Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, but they have a major hole at DH.
Jorge Posada's season is a mess right now. He is hitting a measly .176, although he has hit six home runs. The real problem is the drama he started by sitting last week. Cashman seemed displeased and speculation started to swirl about his future with the Yankees. He certainly wasn't in any position to be able to weather the speculation because he was under-performing so hard. The other DH option, Andruw Jones, hasn't been hitting either.
The Yankees seem like the best fit of any team for the Orioles to send Guerrero because they have the glaring need and the money to cover almost any contract. One possibility could be a Guerrero for Eduardo Nunez deal, but that's purely speculation. Guerrero would likely have to drop to sixth in the batting order, but I don't think he'd mind hitting between Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.