M’s Sign Carlos Guillen
Hey, look, the Mariners weren’t done after all! Okay, so, this doesn’t really count, and this deal has been in the works and kicking around the rumor mill for a while. Today, the M’s announced that they’ve signed Carlos Guillen to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
From 2004 (the year the Mariners traded him for Ramon Santiago…) to 2008, Guillen was one of the better players in baseball. He hit .308/.377/.493, good for a 127 wRC+, while spending most of his time at shortstop, though he also played some third, some first, and even a few games in left field. He made a lot of contact, hit for power, drew some walks, ran the bases, and was a pretty terrific all-around infielder. He was never a great glove guy, but he wouldn’t kill you defensively either, and all told, he was worth +19.4 WAR over those five seasons, an average of nearly +4 wins per season.
Then his body broke down. In 2009, he missed two months with shoulder problems and was limited to just 322 plate appearances, where his offense was okay but significantly down from prior seasons. He played mostly left field and DH, and he was a liability in the field that his bat didn’t really make up for.
In 2010, the Tigers tried him at second base, but he missed a month with a hamstring issue, a few weeks with a strained calf, and then finished the year on the DL after having microfracture surgery on his knee. He only got 275 plate appearances that year and was basically the same guy as the year before.
He started last year on the DL while still recovering from surgery and didn’t play in the big leagues until July. He managed to last for about a month before a sore wrist landed him on the DL, and then he ended the season unable to play due to another calf strain. During the month that he did play, he was lousy.
Over the last three years, Guillen has accumulated about 700 PA and been worth +0.2 WAR, landing on the DL four different times for four different injuries. He turned 36 in September. You can probably figure out about what you should expect him to be able to give the 2012 Mariners.
So, why’s he coming to camp? As we’ve talked about, the team needs some third base depth, and Guillen is essentially going to give them an alternative option for the roster spot currently held by Chone Figgins. It’s pretty likely that the M’s would move Figgins if anyone wanted to pick up even a moderate amount of his remaining contract, and having Guillen around means that they would have someone to platoon with Seager at third base if they dumped Figgins before the season starts.
Guillen’s an insurance policy – a guy who could fill a part-time bench role if someone gets hurt in spring training or they make a trade. As it stands now, he wouldn’t make the club, but there’s time for that to change. Bringing Guillen to camp gives the team the ability to make a move with Figgins if they want to without having to scramble to fill his roster spot by making a trade or pushing a kid up from Tacoma prematurely. Unlike with Millwood, who is probably going to make the team, Guillen probably can’t win a job in spring training. He’s going to need someone else to get out of the way if he’s going to make this club. That guy is almost certainly Figgins, but given that the team is only carrying four outfielders (including Mike Carp) right now, Figgins versatility is almost certainly more helpful to the team than Guillen’s potential for a little more offense from the platoon third baseman.