M’s Sign Carlos Guillen

Dave · February 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


34 Responses to “M’s Sign Carlos Guillen”

  1. bat guano on February 1st, 2012 12:15 pm

    Please let this mean that a move with Figgins is in the works!

  2. seizethecarp on February 1st, 2012 12:33 pm

    With Adam Moore and Gutierrez healthy and Aardsma out of the picture, someone had to come in and take charge of that 60-day DL spot. Guillen’s a natural fit.

  3. Yannigan on February 1st, 2012 12:49 pm

    The worst thing about this signing is that it brings up Guillen’s prior stint in Seattle and the trade to Detroit. Ramon Santiago.

    This is just one more sign that this is a new/different franchise since the arrival of Jack Z. I know that we like to lament the decade of futility since 2001, but I like to focus on the improvements over the past three years. Hopefully no more trades like Ramon Santiago for one of the most productive infielders in baseball.

  4. FelixFanChris420 on February 1st, 2012 12:53 pm

    So Dave, judging by the fact that you said this has been kicking around for awhile, am I to assume that you’re of the belief that this isn’t the move Jack Z was alluding to?

  5. milehighmariner on February 1st, 2012 12:56 pm

    I’ve been trying to forget that trade for years. Awesome! Let the therapy start all over again.

    Hope this isn’t the final “little chip” Z was talking about.

  6. stevemotivateir on February 1st, 2012 12:59 pm

    I had been waiting for them to sign a veteran infielder -specifically for 3rd base depth. I like this signing. Really makes you wonder if they’re close to shipping Figgins somewhere, or if they play to dump him following spring, if they haven’t dealt him before then.

  7. eastcoastmariner on February 1st, 2012 1:25 pm

    Dave –

    This is completely unrelated to Carlos Guillen, but is something I’d be very much interested in hearing you touch upon further in another post or briefly in a follow up response…

    Given the current state of the Mariners roster, strengths of other teams within the division, payroll limitations, etc. How would you go about constructing a lineup to make the Mariners contenders again, not only as soon as possible, but also for the foreseeable future?

    For example, given the structure of Safeco as compared to the average MLB ballpark, it would seem to me that the Mariners could get value by targeting players who provide defensive versatility and would play great defense in the corner OF positions (i.e. Brett Gardner, Garrardo Parra, Will Venable, Casper Wells, etc.), even if it meant you had to sacrifice some offense by placing a defense oriented player at these corner OF positions. By doing so, would you then try to fill offense at other positions like 1B (Smoak), DH (Montero), 3B (?), 2B (Ackley) that defense may not be quite as important in a ballpark like Safeco?

    I’ve been thinking who the Mariners could target should they employ this type of strategy, and I appreciate your feedback should you provide it.


  8. msfanmike on February 1st, 2012 1:34 pm

    I like the move and have been holding out some hope for it to occur since it was first rumored weeks/months ago. It makes sense. There is probably some productivity left in Guillen’s tank, when that tank is not resting on the DL. The opportunity the signing creates toward expediting Figgins’ eventual exodus (in whatever form that takes) also provides near-term optimism. I am sure there are other moves being considered to bolster the outfield depth. Hopefully something will pan out.

  9. Dennisss on February 1st, 2012 1:48 pm

    I’ll add my voice to those who think it would be refreshing to watch someone besides Figgins provide next-to-nothing as the veteran backup infielder.
    I have to think Figgy is on his way out.

  10. MrZDevotee on February 1st, 2012 2:09 pm

    This is a nice, if quaint move.

    I could see Carlos being a poorman’s Omar Vizquel (depth wise, not defensively)… Adding backup depth to SS, in the event that Kawasaki doesn’t work out, or Luis Rodriquez doesn’t break camp with the team. Basically, he’s here to cover our butts for a 100 or so AB’s if something doesn’t break the way we expected… Say, if Figgins, Rodriguez and Kawasaki all look less worthy than their already meager projections?

    But like Dave said, he probably doesn’t make the team in a “best case scenario” for the Mariners.

    But hey, if he somehow bounces back, well then he’s a REAL Omar Vizquel clone… (Again… obviously NOT talking about the glove with that comparison, but more a veteran INF who provides depth without too much risk involved… while he’s healthy).

    Always liked Guillen.

  11. charliebrown on February 1st, 2012 2:13 pm

    I believe Dave just made a convincing case that Chone Figgins is more useful to the Mariners than someone else. Wow.

    I stand in awe of you Dave….

  12. sexymarinersfan on February 1st, 2012 2:16 pm

    It seems as though Guillen is this years Adam Kennedy.

  13. Johnny Slick on February 1st, 2012 3:00 pm

    This isn’t 2001 and Guillen can’t plat shortstop anymore. As such, he’s not going to unseat Rodriguez or Kawasaki as the backup middle infielder. I do think the M’s could deal with a 10 or 11 man pitching staff but of course nobody else is doing that and so they won’t.

    I like the idea of keeping him in Tacoma/for a couple months to give someone somewhere a chance to get injured and find their team with a gaping hole at third base which can only be filled by Chone Magic.

  14. Madison Mariner on February 1st, 2012 3:10 pm

    “From 2004 (the year the Mariners traded him for Ramon Santiago…)”

    …and Juan Gonzalez, too.

    Wait, we got Juan Gonzalez as part of a trade for Carlos Guillen? Yes, but not the one you’re probably thinking of(since by 2004, the former AL MVP Juan Gonzalez was on the last legs of his career with the Royals–he played 1 game with the Indians in 2005 before calling it a career).

    The one we got is not the former 1996 AL MVP, but a career minor leaguer named Juan M. Gonzalez(and if you go to Baseball Reference, then be warned–Juan Gonzalez is a popular name in MLB/MilB, apparently. Better that you search for Carlos Guillen or Ramon Santiago, then find the transaction history at the bottom of their page and click on his name). 😉

    This Juan Gonzalez actually spent 2004 and part of 2005 in the M’s organization before heading…can you guess where…? That’s right, back to Detroit, just like Ramon Santiago did. Not sure how he got back there midseason-2005, since they don’t list all the myriad transactions guys like this guy through. Could have been a simple release by the M’s and re-signed with the Tigers. Then, after the 2005 season, he might have become a minor league free agent and he went to the Rangers’ organization, and also spent part of 2006 with the Marlins’ organization.

    He then spent 3 seasons in the Dodgers’ organization(2007-2009) and 2010 in the Braves’ organization. No data for 2011 on their site, but apparently he has had a fruitful career as a minor league organizational player. Don’t know if he ever saw time in the majors, but got to give the guy some credit for keeping his career going.

    Just thought everyone might be interested in the “other piece” in the Carlos Guillen trade(especially those who’ve been around USS Mariner for a while and remember when Guillen was originally traded).

    (BTW, the M’s didn’t hold onto Ramon Santiago very long either. They had him for 2004 and 2005, then released him in November of 2005 only to see him re-sign with Detroit on a minor league contract in January 2006, where he’s been ever since. Talk about getting nothing in return for Guillen.)

    Anyway, welcome back, Carlos! 🙂

  15. Slippery Elmer on February 1st, 2012 4:25 pm

    [quote]Talk about getting nothing in return for Guillen.[/quote]

    And now they’ve gotten Carlos Guillen in return for nothing.

  16. MrZDevotee on February 1st, 2012 4:42 pm

    “And now they’ve gotten Carlos Guillen in return for nothing.”

    We could just drop Figgins and pretend it was a trade?!? How weird is it that it would actually make signing Guillen MORE exciting!?

    And, then we can pretend we’re paying Carlos an extra $200,000-300,000, or whatever we dream we could get away with convincing another team to inherit of Chone’s $9 million.

    Heck maybe even send out a press release- “Mariners trade Chone Figgins to Detroit for Carlos Guillen”… Perhaps Detroit will forget Guillen’s gone and actually take Figgins? (Stranger things have happened! I mean, they aren’t thinking straight currently, as evidenced by the Fielder contract/Cabrera/Inge shuffle)

    (((Johnny Slick- you’re right. I knew Guillen was hurt most of the past few seasons, but didn’t realize he hadn’t played SS since 2007)))

  17. roosevelt on February 1st, 2012 5:01 pm

    Really surprised Guillien signed with the M’s??? Must have been his only option.
    I don’t see him as an “insurance policy” as he is most often injured himself. Probably, the M’s should get another insurance policy for him too. Perhaps, Harold Reynolds? Truthfully, CG is not really a third baseman. Go M’s!

  18. smb on February 1st, 2012 6:34 pm

    Over/under on number of games before Guillen’s body starts to fall apart like toilet paper in the rain?

  19. smb on February 1st, 2012 6:36 pm

    I know Guillen can hit but I agree that Figgins is a more useful piece on this 25 man roster (assuming he makes it), without a doubt.

  20. stevemotivateir on February 1st, 2012 7:19 pm

    ^Yeah, he sucks at more positions!

  21. vertigoman on February 1st, 2012 7:20 pm

    Good move. Actually, there’s really no way a NRI could be a bad move.
    If his microfracture surgically repaired knee is good to go he might be a fit. I believe he’d be the only guy on the roster with any meaningful ML time at 1B besides Smoak.

    Plus, he’s adding to the whole Venezuelan thing we have going on. Maybe softens the landing a bit more for Jesus.

    If nothing else, he’s a good drinking buddy for Felix.

  22. Johnny Slick on February 1st, 2012 8:07 pm

    There’s something about a 21st century ballplayer who once missed time due to the consumption that really speaks to me, I have to admit.

  23. djtizzo on February 1st, 2012 8:59 pm

    Isn’t this what every blog on this site is basically about?

    eastcoastmariner –

    “How would you go about constructing a lineup to make the Mariners contenders again, not only as soon as possible, but also for the foreseeable future?”

  24. Breadbaker on February 1st, 2012 11:00 pm

    I think of this as an exorcism of the trade that killed the team. They were so anxious to get rid of Carlos they gave him away for nothing (after failing to give him away for Omar Vizquel, who couldn’t pass the Mariners famous physical). The Tigers started immediately improving and the M’s started immediately going into the toilet and have basically never had an above-average performance from a shortstop since. This won’t solve that problem, but maybe the mojo will improve.

  25. G-Man on February 1st, 2012 11:13 pm

    I’m a little surprised. Rumors were that they dumped Carlos for so little because he and Freddie Garcia were big partiers and they wanted to break that up (I presumed they wanted to “save” Garcia). There was also the matter of Guillens arrest for DUI arrest (found innocent).

    Then there was the embarrassment of how little they got … especially after Santiago was released, bounced back and because a key for Detroit, as Madison Mariner outlined. But that wasn’t on Jack Z’s watch, so I guess he doesn’t care.

    I got it: seeing Carlos, we’re supposed to fondly recall the halcyon days around the turn of the century, when Guillen roamed the infield and the M’s made the playoffs.

  26. Westside guy on February 2nd, 2012 8:49 am

    Does it count as a Large Item Pickup if the player comes in as an NRI?

  27. goat on February 2nd, 2012 11:27 am

    I like this deal because Carlos Peguero got 150 AB last year.
    Figgins ~ Cust/Bradley
    Seager ~ Saunders
    Liddi ~ Peguero

    So if 2012 3B mirrors 2011 LF we should expect both Figgins and Guillen to be DFA’d, Seager to suck and get sent down, Liddi to get lots of PAs because there doesn’t appear to be a better option, and Cat smoking AAA all year until finally getting called up and being played out of position.

  28. eponymous coward on February 2nd, 2012 12:11 pm

    Does it count as a Large Item Pickup if the player comes in as an NRI?

    That’s kind of the entire point- “hey, that’s a perfectly good Carlos Guillen you left by the side of the curb!”

  29. JoshJones on February 2nd, 2012 12:34 pm

    “I believe he’d be the only guy on the roster with any meaningful MLB time at 1B besides Smoak.”

    Total(MLB career) Games @ 1st base

    Justin Smoak 202/198
    Mike Carp 59/54
    Carlos Guillen 71/39 (33 in 2007-2008)
    Jesus Monetero 0/0

    Guillen seems more like Adam Kenedy from last year. However, Kennedy got 380AB’s last year. If Guillen is healthy and swinging the stick well 150-200AB’s might make sense in a limited role.

  30. TumwaterMike on February 2nd, 2012 10:25 pm

    This might seem like a radical idea but I was thinking, Guillen and Figgins both make the team. Seager sent to Tacoma. Figgins starts at 3rd and leads off. If he’s crap you dump him in May. If he does well you keep him until July and flip him for somebody. Guillen backs up everybody except maybe CF and SS. Seager sits in Tacoma learning as many positions as possible, to include LF/RF. In July when you flip Figgins you then bring up Seager, who becomes a supersub.

  31. Westside guy on February 3rd, 2012 12:04 am

    Given the two years still owed to him, I would doubt a few months of decent performance would cause most other teams to forget about two years of crap.

    But I suppose it only takes one guy to forget…

  32. TumwaterMike on February 3rd, 2012 12:56 am

    Given the two years still owed to him, I would doubt a few months of decent performance would cause most other teams to forget about two years of crap.

    You never know. With an extra wildcard team in each league there might be someone who looks at Figgins as the missing piece they need to push for the playoffs.

  33. Thirteen on February 3rd, 2012 4:23 am

    “Seager sits in Tacoma learning as many positions as possible, to include LF/RF. In July when you flip Figgins you then bring up Seager, who becomes a supersub.”

    I’m not sure the M’s are willing to designate Seager as a UT rather than as a 3B this early in his career. Besides, after you flip Figgins and bring up subersub!Seager, who’s the starting 3B? Seager can’t be a supersub and a starting third baseman at the same time.

  34. eponymous coward on February 3rd, 2012 6:30 am

    Seager’s probably a decent MLB player right now. He’s also better than Carlos Guillen. He’s even arguably better than Figgins.

    So we’re demoting young players who had good years in 2011 for worse players, because of sunk costs and because we want to give plate time to guys well on the wrong side of 30? In a year where our talent is way behind the teams at the top of our division?

    This just makes no sense. Put the best team on the field. Full stop.

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