After the flurry of moves in baseball this past week, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a move of their own when they re-signed relief pitcher Brian Wilson.
However, we continue to take a look at other possible free agents that could be a fit with the team. Today, we take a look at a veteran middle infielder that could fill a bench role for the Dodgers:
Roberts is a 36-year-old second baseman that spent last season with the Baltimore Orioles. In his career, he’s hit .278 with 1,452 hits and 278 stolen bases in 13 seasons.
The 36-year-old played in 77 games for the Orioles, the most games he’s played in a season since 2009. He missed some time after knee surgery early in the season. Overall, he finished hitting .249 with eight home runs and 39 RBI in 265 at-bats.
With the Orioles, Roberts provided some exceptional defense at second base in 2013. He was plus-seven runs in Total Zone Fielding last year in 60 games. The former Oriole has provided solid defense throughout his career and owns a career .987 fielding percentage. Roberts spent time at shortstop early in his career and would likely be able to field that position as well. He would slot in nicely on the Dodgers’ bench, filling the role that Nick Punto was in last season.
When healthy, Roberts has always been an above average contributor in the major leagues. His best seasons are behind him but in a backup role, he would thrive. Roberts struggled last season but finished the season strong with five home runs in the final month. He also had five doubles and drove in 10 runs in September, providing a look into the value he would bring.
His value would also come on late in games, where he provides a switch-hitter for manager Don Mattingly to use off the bench. Roberts is also an above-average baserunner that would be suitable for pinch-running duties in close games. He could also be an option to start at second base if the Dodgers decide to move Hanley Ramirez to third base and Alexander Guerrero to shortstop.
Roberts hasn’t had a healthy season since 2009, playing in just 192 games the past four seasons. He’s had trouble staying on the field and would be a risky move for the Dodgers, even in a reserve role. Roberts has had injuries of all sorts and may not be the player he once was. The toll on his body over the past few years may effect his play and range in the infield.
Although Roberts has played shortstop in his career, he hasn’t seen time at the position since 2003. It’s unknown whether he would be able to play the position now in his advanced age. His value diminishes if he can only play second base, as the Dodgers are in the market for a utility player. Roberts spent some games at DH last season with the Orioles, but would not have that luxury in the National League.
The Dodgers are in the market for a utility player with the departures of Punto, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Skip Schumaker, but have capable players available in their system. Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers would be able to handle the roles of Punto and Schumaker, making Roberts more of a luxury than a necessity. The team would be better off with the younger players, rather than an injury-prone, aging infielder.
Roberts is coming off the last year of a four-year, $40 million dollar contract but will not get anywhere near that this off-season. He will likely receive a one-year deal in the range of $1 million. Many teams will be skeptical of his past and will offer contracts full of incentives. He should receive a major league contract, but could see himself getting a minor league deal.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 15%
The Dodgers have a need on the bench and Roberts seemingly fits that need; however, the team may decide to go with youth and avoid the veteran. Gordon and Sellers will compete for roles on the team and could be enough for the Dodgers to turn away from free agency.
Unless a wave of desperation sweeps the Dodgers, look for Roberts to be playing anywhere but in Los Angeles next season.
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