2013 Dodgers player profile: Tony Gwynn, on the outside looking in

Norm Hall

After most of the past two years as the club's fourth outfielder, Gwynn has a tough road ahead of him to get back to the majors with the Dodgers.

Usually these player profiles are reserved for players on the 40-man roster and non-roster invitees with a chance to make the team. Tony Gwynn Jr. was already reassigned to minor league camp, but is a bit of a special case.

Gwynn is no longer on the 40-man roster, as he was designated for assignment last August. But after signing a two-year, $2 million non-guaranteed contract before the 2012 season, he has accepted two minor league assignments to continue getting paid.

"My options are not very many if I don't (make the team). I'm getting paid," Gwynn said before getting cut last week. "If I get sent down, as unhappy as that would make me, it's something I'd have to do."

Gwynn in many ways was a perfect fit for the Dodgers in 2011 and part of 2012, as he could play all three outfield positions defensively very well, and was often a late inning defensive replacement for the various immobile left fielders trotted out by the Dodgers in the last two seasons. He was an occasional starter in 2011, with 63 outfield starts, and hit .256/.308/.353 in his 136 total games. Coupled with his excellent defense, Gwynn was a valuable player.

But in 2012 that value plummeted when Gwynn was pressed into everyday duty. Matt Kemp missed 51 of 53 games prior to the All-Star break with a pair of left hamstring tears, and Gwynn took over the bulk of the playing time in center field. But Gwynn, who was dealing with a sports hernia injury of his own that didn't get diagnosed until after the season, hit just .232/.276/.293.

Gwynn was leading the Dodgers in games played, having played in 103 of their 109 games when he was designated for assignment on Aug. 6.

After Gwynn was used often to defensively replace Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu, Jerry Sands, Marcus Thames, Jay Gibbons, and the like, his playing time opportunities diminished with the acquisition of Shane Victorino at the 2012 trade deadline. With Victorino and now Carl Crawford, the Dodgers have an outfield with three players used to playing nearly every game, and nearly every inning.

"For Tony it's hard to get at-bats right now for me. He's really running out of at-bats. A few guys are," Manager Don Mattingly said over a week ago in camp.

While Crawford is coming off two injury plagued years, one could argue there is playing time to be had as his caddy in left field. But the Dodgers would prefer a right-handed hitting outfielder for that role, and both Yasiel Puig and Alex Castellanos are ahead of Gwynn on the depth chart, and on the 40-man roster.

Gwynn may have a long wait on his hands to get back to the majors, at least with the Dodgers.

Trivia

Gwynn appeared in 73 games as a reserve in 2011, the 21st highest total of games off the bench by a Los Angeles Dodger in a single season.

Contact Status

Gwynn is making $1.15 million in 2013 in the final season of a two-year contract. But he is not on the 40-man roster.

Previous player profiles

2012: At the ready

2011: Have glove, will travel

Stats

Year Age PA HR
Runs RBI BA OBP SLG wOBA
2010
27 339 3 30 20 .204 .304 .287 .270
2011 28 340 2 37 22 .256 .308 .353 .292
2012 29 277 0 29 17 .232 .276 .293 .251
2013 Projections - Age 30 Season
Year PA HR
Runs RBI BA OBP SLG wOBA
Bill James 230 1 25 14 .246 .312 .313 .276
Pecota 285 3 33 19 .245 .309 .325 ----
ZiPS 381 2 45 26 .245 .303 .326 .277

2013 Outlook

Given that the Dodgers would prefer a right-handed bat as a complementary outfielder, and that they have Puig in reserve should a long-term outfield need arise, it is going to be hard for Gwynn to find time with the Dodgers in 2013. My guess is if he sees major league time this year it would be after a trade.

What is your guess for Gwynn? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, games played for the Dodgers, and any other thing you wish to guess.

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