Veteran Carlos Guillen Could Fit with Padres

The San Diego Padres don’t figure to be major players on the free agent market this winter. Working with very limited payroll and with a young core group of players, the Padres figure to add complimentary pieces only; in all likelihood, past-their-prime veterans who are looking to bounce back from down seasons.

One such player is Carlos Guillen. The now-former Detroit Tiger is well beyond his days as an all-star shortstop, but has shown the ability to play multiple defensive positions. Couple that with a switch-hitting bat and Guillen would seem a natural fit for many a National League club.

Now 36 and with a lengthy injury history, Guillen won’t get another shot to be an everyday player; his versatility will have to be his calling card going forward. Still, Guillen enters the offseason fully healthy for the first time in years, so there is an upside to bringing him to camp, at the very least.

Once upon a time, Guillen was a force in the heart of a very good Tigers lineup, but the 20-home run, 100-RBI seasons are long since behind him. What has been left, over the past three seasons, has been a player that can still produce, but must be handled with care.

As recently s 2008, the last time he played in as many as 82 games, Guillen posted a .379 OBP and his career mark of .355 is very good. He still has the ability to pull the ball with power, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of speed anymore. Defensively, Guillen has most recently played second base, but was an all-star shortstop and has also seen regular playing time at third base, first base, and left field.

The Padres figure to go into the 2012 season with their infield fairly set. Chase Headley, Jason Bartlett, and Orlando Hudson will be the regulars along with Anthony Rizzo or Jesus Guzman playing at first. Guzman, like Guillen, has a history of playing all over the diamond, but by all accounts, he is not to be trusted with the glove. Guillen, while he no longer possesses ideal range, is as steady as they come on balls he gets to. He could provide a much more reliable glove in a backup role than Guzman can offer.

On a team where only one infielder played at least 120 games last season, a veteran like Guillen could play a significant role.

He’s also likely to come a discounted price. Because of his extensive list of past injuries (calf, hamstrings, wrist, knee) over the past three years, not many clubs will be knocking on Guillen’s door. There’s a real opportunity to pick him up with a low-salary, one-year deal. And that’s the kind of move the Padres need to be looking to make this winter.

Worst-case scenario is that Guillen gets hurt again and the club wastes a small amount of money. Best case is that he stays healthy, provides veteran leadership (Guillen is known as a great clubhouse presence), and shows enough that he can be moved at the deadline to bring back a piece or two.

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  • padsfan

    Typical Padre philosophy–wait until a guy is over the hill and then get him. It’s this philosophy that led the Padres to trade David Freese for Jim Edmonds, who was too old to play center field at Petco. It’s this philosophy that led the Padres to sign Brad Hawpe and Orland Hudson. So the Padres should get Guillen even though he is too old to play short ad is injury prone? I’m not impressed by the idea that although Guillen can’t hit like he used to, he is a switch hitter. Even if he can’t hit anymore, he can hit poorly from both sides of the plate. Every year the Padres add over the hill veterans who should be in softball leagues while their minor leaguers never get a chance and lose confidence because they know they’ll never get a shot–like Matt Antonelli. The Padres had a promising young pitcher named Erik Davis but traded him for a veteran (Gonzalez) who hit 200 and will now be released. Let the young players play and stop signing or trading for washed up players.

  • JohnJParent

    @padsfan I don’t necessarily disagree with you at all. A team like this one probably would benefit from giving at bats to younger players rather than signing over-the-hill veterans. The problem is that Hudson is under contract and therefore will see the vast majority of the at bats at second base. I’d much rather have a veteran backup riding the pine than having a young player have his development hindered by sitting the bench in the majors when he could be getting regular time in the minors.

    If Hudson isn’t on this team, I wouldn’t advocate the signing of Guillen or anyone like him, but Hudson is there and signing a guy like Guillen to play behind him is a way to fill a spot on the ML roster while also continuing the growth of a young player in the minors.