Blue Jays Sign Vladimir Guerrero

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed Vladimir Guerrero to a Minor League contract.

The details: Guerrero will go to extended Spring Training to get into game shape, and if the Blue Jays decide to bring him to the big club, he will make $1.3 million, prorated to however much time he spends in MLB.

While fascinating on multiple levels, the least of which being that Guerrero started his illustrious career in Canada with the Montreal Expos, the most hopeful scenario playing out for Blue Jays fans would see Guerrero splitting time at designated hitter, batting only against left handed pitching.

In this case, Edwin Encarnacion would DH against right handed pitchers, and play first base vs. LHP. Meanwhile, Adam Lind would only play first base against right handed pitching.

All of this makes for a good question: Is Guerrero, at this point in his career a better option versus LHP than what’s currently in house? There’s no question that if his playing time is at the expense of Lind’s, we can expect to see an improvement, but what of Rajai Davis and Ben Francisco?

Here’s what the three players have done in their most recent full seasons and careers vs. LHP:

  • Vladimir Guerrero: .311 wOBA, 91 wRC+ in 2011; .401 wOBA, 147 wRC+ over his career.
  • Rajai Davis: .362 wOBA, 127 wRC+ in 2011; .333 wOBA, 104 wRC+ over his career.
  • Ben Francisco: .301 wOBA, 86 wRC+ in 2011; .340 wOBA, 108 wRC+ over his career.

As we see, Guerrero in his last incarnation as a Major Leaguer wasn’t anything close to the hitter he once was. However, over the last three seasons, Vladdy, as he is still affectionately called, puts up numbers like this: .341 wOBA, 108 wRC+, eerily close to what Francisco has put up over his career.

Talent declines faster at an advanced age, and Guerrero at the age of 37 is definitely going to be experiencing this. As for the Blue Jays though, they really lose nothing. They pay a minimal amount to see if he still has anything left, and if he does, there’s probably some room to have him DH¬†occasionally¬†and be used as a bat off the bench. Above all this, the team creates some good will with its fans, of whom even the most casual are aware of Guerrero.