Vladimir Guerrero was given his release on June 12th by the Toronto Blue Jays after the Blue Jays told him they had no plans to bring him up to the Major Leagues. Normally, when you put a player with Vladimir Guerrero’s caliber on the market in the middle of a season the MLB rumors would be spinning the mill at full bore. However, at 37 years old, Vlad is a shell of his former self who is most likely going to be relegated to a DH role because he has become somewhat of a liability in the field.
However, Vlad’s bat seems to be in decent enough shape. Last season with the Baltimore Orioles, Vladimir hit .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBI. He still doesn’t walk much and swings at every pitch near the strike zone and even some ones being thrown by relief pitchers in the bullpen during warm up sessions but he still has an uncanny ability to put a ball in play.
Guerrero was hitting .303 in AAA but had not hit a home run in the eight games. Despite the fact that he is not the same Vlad Guerrero he was just two years ago, or even last season, he can still help someone, even on a limited basis. The New York Mets would make sense as part of a platoon with Scott Hairston. Hairston can’t hit righties and Guerrero owns a career .316 average against righties with 334 of his 449 career home runs coming against righties. Last season he hit righties slightly better than lefties, .291 to .288. The large environs of Citi Field would pose a problem for Vlad and his balky knees but they might be able to get the last big of decent baseball out of him.
The Detroit Tigers are another team that could make sense for Guerrero. Things haven’t gone the way the Tigers had hoped when they brought Prince Fielder in to add some punch to their lineup. Detroit is in third place in the AL Central and currently 4 games under .500. The Tigers are currently seventh in the AL in runs scored with 266 and 9th in home runs with 60. Brennan Boesch hasn’t hit the way the Tigers had hoped and time is running out. Instead of trying to acquire a bat at the deadline, and pickings may be slim because a lot of teams are still in the race, the Tigers could sign Vlad to a deal and let him his at DH and put Delmon Young in the outfield with Austin Jackson and Boesch. Although home runs might be hard to come by, Vlad would add some pop and help Miguel Cabrera and Fielder out in the middle of the order.
Then there are the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are currently 1.5 games out of first place and have been getting little offensive support. Travis Hafner is currently on the DL with a knee issue. Johnny Damon is hitting below .200. Jason Kipnis is leading the team in home runs with 10. This is a team that could use some offensive punch, regardless of where it comes from. They already rolled the dice on an outfielder who can’t play the field in Johnny Damon but he hasn’t hit. Picking up someone like Vlad would boost an offense that is dire need of it. Even if Travis Hafner comes back and is healthy what can the Indians really expect from him? He hasn’t hit since 2007 on a consistent basis and has played in 100 or more games just once since that year when he managed to play 118 in 2010. Vlad would at least offer some protection in case Hafner can’t stay healthy or if Damon doesn’t hit.
Vlad will help someone out this year. The question is who will take the chance?