The Immediate Effects of Juan Uribe’s Return

December 15, 2013 at 11:27 am | Posted in Juan Uribe | Leave a comment

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We learned last night that the Dodgers and Juan Uribe had agreed to a reunion for the next two years, for a reported $15 million. Between his atrocious 2011-12 and his rebound 2013, it’s almost impossible to guess what he’s going to be in his age-34 and -35 seasons. Interestingly enough, as has been discussed here and elsewhere, Uribe wasn’t a markedly different player as far as tendencies or plate discipline. He was simply a player in far better shape, better able to field his position and get some power behind the ball.

Now, whether he maintains that over the next two years remains to be seen. The good news is that he’s reportedly a great teammate, and that his value isn’t entirely offense-dependent; he was arguably the best defensive third baseman in the NL last year. But as we’ve seen, his bat absolutely can fall apart enough that the glove alone won’t sustain it.

While there’s plenty of time for that, here’s what we do know about the immediate effects of this:

1. The Dodgers don’t need to do something desperate at third base. We’ve been over this a few times, but as risky as Uribe can be, this means that it’s not Michael Young. Or Kevin Youkilis. Or Eric Chavez. Or outbidding Kansas City’s four(!) year deal to Omar Infante. Or getting the aged and injury-prone Aramis Ramirez. Or, as much as we might have liked him in the lineup, paying a huge ransom for one year of Chase Headley.

2. The price is right. We don’t know the exact breakdown yet, but 2/$15m sounds about right. FanGraphs readers predicted 2/$16m; Jon Heyman had 2/$12m; Jim Bowden had $7m annually, though over a single year. Reportedly, the Dodgers wanted just the single year, with an option for a second, and it sounds like they had to bend on that to avoid, well, everything in point number one. Really, when Edinson Volquez is getting $5m for a year, it’s hard to argue about anything less than $20m.

3. This doesn’t block anyone. I had someone ask me on Twitter last night if this meant that Corey Seager‘s ETA has now been pushed to 2016, assuming that Hanley Ramirez does indeed sign an extension at some point. My answer to that is a flat “no,” because when Seager is ready to play — my rough guess is mid-2015 — room will be made for him. That’s because Uribe is a fine placeholder at third, but you can also see him as a decent multi-positional bench option who can play three infield spots (I imagine his shortstop days are done) with some pop.

4. The starting lineup would seem to be more or less set. Yes, the bench still needs some help, and the open question about whether an outfielder is traded will hang over the winter. But this would put an end to questions about Ramirez sliding to third or the possibility of Stephen Drew arriving. That makes the priority for the rest of the winter adding a few relievers and fleshing out that bench.

5. Juan Uribe might be a five-year Dodger. Words I couldn’t have believed even eight months ago, and ones I hardly believe right now.

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