Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Who Wants Vlad? Anybody?

In light of the fact that Vladimir Guerrero has been released by the Blue Jays the question has to be asked; who might be interested in the rightfielder as a backup/DH option? He’s not much more than an insurance policy for any given team at this point. He’s more or less a replacement level player, potentially he could be a bit better than that again, but given the Blue Jays lack of confidence he may not really be worth too much. That said, the Jays would have had to displace someone productive for him. Edwin Encarnacion has been quite productive from the DH spot, he’s not near productive enough at this point in his career to replace Jose Bautista, but could have arguably been a reasonable replacement for Eric Thames. Vlad could have potentially taken Adam Lind’s place on the roster given his continued woes with the bat have extended to now having all but lost his power, but that would really be about it. There are other teams in both leagues who could potentially use someone like Vlad but few of them are currently in contention, and that will limit vlad’s marketability significantly.

The Pirates could potentially use someone like Vlad to take a day here or there for Alex Presley or Jose Tabata who are both young light hitting corner outfielders. Vlad isn’t any lock to be a great addition, but he could potentially help provide a bit of power and veteran leadership in the outfield and off the bench late in games for the Bucs. He wouldn’t necessarily be the kind of impact bat that the Pirates might want to sign to get them over the hump and keep them in contention but he’s a low risk, low money acquisition. This makes the most sense to me if the Bucs front office isn’t really sure that they’re really contenders, or just on a hot streak despite their league worst offensive production.

The KC Royals aren’t exactly hurting for someone like Vlad but might (as they often do) find value in his veteran status. He could serve as a bench bat and occasional corner outfielder if they chose to reach out to Fernando Cuza to see what kind of interest Vlad would have in such a role.

The Indians could look to release Johnny Damon and give his at bats to Vlad. I’d like to see Damon and Vlad both go out by choice rather than due to a lack of production/interest but this could be a case where one veteran outfielder forces another to retire.

The Orioles could potentially look at Vlad as insurance as much as anything else. They’ve been dealing with injuries to Nolan Reimold as well as others and could look at a return trip with Vlad as a potential shot in the arm if they believe that hiding him in left field would be viable, though I feel that they may view him as an all but strictly DH candidate at this juncture.

The Tigers haven’t gotten a ton out of right field or the DH spots between Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch. I wouldn’t expect Vlad to be looked at as an everyday outfielder but they might be willing to give him a shot in light of Delmon Young’s off field antics this season and his unimpressive offensive numbers.

There is potentially a fit for any other team that could use a bench bat/4th outfielder type but these are the ones that stand out to me at the moment. The D-Backs or Marlins who were linked to him in the offseason make some sense if they’re looking to get some power off the bench but his career long habit of swinging at every pitch he can see might deter them. I’m tempted to say that the Padres will make a play for Vlad in light of their recent decision to become the league’s garbage heap but there’s really no good fit here. He’s not likely to produce any more than Mark Kotsay and certainly couldn’t take over in a full time capacity in left field for Jesus Guzman. I happen to feel the Pirates are probably the best bet for Vlad if he’s willing to work in a largely mentoring role again this year. If he plays it right he might be able to parlay that into something much like Jason Giambi’s role with the Rockies.

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