Dodgers interest in Nate Schierholtz makes sense

Harry How

Schierholtz, who turns 29 in February, hit .287/.348/.463 with 15 home runs against right-handed pitchers in 2011-2012.

Lost in the shuffle from the first full day of baseball's winter meetings (thanks in part to being on a non-team-specific and hard-to-find general blog, especially when entries are written by an inactive tweeter) was that the Dodgers are interested in outfielder Nate Schierholtz as a potential reserve.

Not deterred by the deadweight that was their last Phillies outfield acquisition, the Dodgers are interested in Schierholtz, who doesn't on the surface doesn't seem like a fit for other reasons, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com explained.

"As a left-handed hitter, Schierholtz wouldn’t seem a fit with both corners already taken by lefties Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. And he doesn’t fit the need for a backup to Matt Kemp with true center-field skills," Gurnick wrote. "But with Crawford coming off elbow surgery, Schierholtz would be insurance, as well as a bench upgrade."

Schierholtz, who was traded in July by the Giants to the Phillies as part of the Hunter Pence deal, hit .257/.321/.407 in 269 plate appearances in 2012.

He doesn't have too pronounced a platoon split in his career, as he has hit .266/.319/.443 against right-handers and .284/.317/.391 against southpaws. But in the last two years Schierholtz has hit .287/.348/.463 with 15 home runs and 24 doubles in 495 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers.

Dodgers left-handed batters not named Andre Ethier or Adrian Gonzalez in 2012 hit a combined .231/.297/.303 in 1,894 plate appearances.

Schierholtz, who turns 29 in February, made $1.3 million in 2012 but was non-tendered by the Phillies on Friday. With four years, 78 days of service time, Schierholtz if signed would also be eligible for arbitration in 2014.

In his career, Schierholtz has hit .306/.347/.418 as a pinch hitter, in 147 plate appearances.

As the roster currently stands, the Dodgers bench figures to have switch hitter Nick Punto, right-hander Jerry Hairston Jr., right-hander Juan Uribe, and either right-hander Tim Federowicz or another backup catcher. Adding another left-hander wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, and in fact almost preferred. Schierholtz would likely have to beat out fellow left-hander Tony Gwynn Jr., who represents a defensive upgrade but is currently on the outside of the 40-man roster looking in.

If the Dodgers decide to go right-handed with their reserve outfielder, Scott Hairston, brother of Jerry, would fit, but as of now they don't appear interested. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York on Monday reported that there were five teams that have expressed interest in Hairston, and none of them were the Dodgers.

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