LOS ANGELES -- Heading into spring training, the biggest question mark for the Dodgers remains at second base. With two-year starter Mark Ellis now in St. Louis, the favorite for the job in 2014 is Cuban import Alex Guerrero. But the $28 million man is no sure thing, and the Dodgers are weighing several infield options, including a few not yet in-house.
If Guerrero doesn't work out, at least at the beginning, general manager Ned Colletti mentioned the usual suspects for second base in April: Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins and Miguel Rojas, the latter two non-roster invitees to camp.
Gordon, it should be noted, looks decidedly larger this season. Mattingly estimated Gordon was now over 170 pounds. Gordon was listed at 160 pounds in 2013. He has an inside track at a bench spot, at least, but he'll get some competition.
"We're working on one more infielder that hopefully we're going to sign in the next five days, a utility type that has some versatility to him," Colletti said. "We're also working on signing someone internationally. He'll be in that mix."
Of the domestic utility infielder, Colletti said it would be a minor league deal, which when browsing the now-barren MLB Trade Rumors free agent tracker is pretty much limited to Justin Turner and Nick Green. Colletti said the international signee wasn't someone he saw in the last two weeks, eliminating Cuban utility man Rusney Castillo.
Update (Feb. 3): the infielder could be Castillo, as even though the Dodgers saw Castillo in the Dominican Republic in January Colletti was not actually at the private workout, in a correction by Ben Badler at Baseball America.
One player not in the mix is Michael Young, who retired on Friday. Young profiled more as a potential backup corner infielder had he decided to continue playing, but it wouldn't have been surprising to see him serve as a bridge of sorts in April should Guerrero need some extra time.
Manager Don Mattingly said he sent a text message to Young after the announcement. Young wanted to spend more time with his family, a reason that helped Mattingly retire at age 34 (helped by years of back injuries, too) in 1995.
For a team that has four (and potentially) five relief pitchers with closing experience in the bullpen, and one who entered 2013 with eight starting pitchers under contract, the lack of infield depth is somewhat startling, especially at this late point of the offseason.
Guerrero met Mattingly for the first time on Saturday at FanFest at Dodger Stadium.
Alex Guerrero meets his manager, Donnie Baseball: pic.twitter.com/uew1wqWDX3— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) February 1, 2014
Mattingly said he liked what he saw on film of Guerrero, who primarily played shortstop in Cuba.
"To me, that swing can work," Mattingly said. "This guys is a good athlete. I'm sure it's an adjustment getting on the other side of second base."
Guerrero, 27, was hampered by a left hamstring injury during winter league play, limited to just 12 total games played in the Dominican Republic. He has been working the last two weeks in Arizona with instruction from Jose Vizcaino and Juan Castro.
Mattingly thinks there is still enough time for Guerrero to adequately learn the position, relaying stories from hitting coach Mark McGwire about Skip Schumaker, who was converted from outfielder to second base just before spring training in 2009 in St. Louis.
But what this all means is that the Dodgers are banking heavily on Guerrero sticking at second base. Sink or swim, he may be their man.