The Dodgers were one of The Worst Hitting clubs against left handed pitching in 2016. Addressing that glaring weakness has been one of their goals this offseason. So in order to do that the Dodgers have reportedly brought another outfielder into their crowded mix and signed 33-year old Franklin Gutierrez to a 2.6 million dollar contract. This is not the first time we’ve heard about Gutierrez. He has been linked to the Dodgers in minor trade rumors over the last couple of years.
— manolo hernandez d. (@beisbolporgotas) February 11, 2017
Gutierrez was originally signed by the Dodgers in 2000 out of his native Venezuela but he never reached the bigs in Los Angeles as he was traded to the Indians in 2004 for notorious head case Milton Bradley. Cleveland is where Gutierrez made his MLB Debut, playing four seasons before being traded to Seattle.
He’s spent the last seven seasons in Seattle as a part time player, but specializing in southpaw mashing. Gutierrez has shown to be a capable hitter before having his career side tracked by injuries. In 2009 he batted .283 and blasted 18 home runs while driving in 70 runs in 153 games.
Injuries reduced his playing time considerably over the next several seasons but it seems he has taken a big leap forward over the past two years. While heath still remains a question, he certainly has some decent pop in his bat as he has slugged 29 home runs since 2015.
In 2015 he posted a .974 OPS and batted .292 while socking 15 home runs for the Mariners in 189 plate appearances. Last season his OPS fell to .780 and his average plummeted to .246. Yet he was still able to hit 14 home runs in 283 plate appearances. Overall he has a .720 career OPS with a .257 average and 97 home runs during his 11 big league seasons.
His rising strikeout rates are a concern. Since 2009 his strikeout rates have gone up by 10%.
2015 – 28.6%
While that is a concerning factor, the Dodgers are acquiring him for a specific reason. He hits left handed pitching very well. In 2015 he hit .317 against southpaws with a .973 OPS. In 2016 he batted .280 with an .884 OPS against left handers. Overall he has a slash line of .289/.351/.495 with an .846 OPS and 50 home runs against left handed pitching.
2015 – .317 8 home runs .973 OPS
2016- .280 12 home runs .884 OPS
Career .289 50 home runs .846 OPS
His Defensive metrics don’t look so hot, but he did win a gold glove back in 2010 when he was playing most of his time in center field. He’s seen more time in center (475 games) than he has in right (302). He’s played 81 games in left field.
His defense doesn’t matter. That’s not why the Dodgers are acquiring him. The front office is bringing him in because he does one thing very well and that’s hit left handed pitching. That’s something the Dodgers need in 2017 and Gutierrez could be a very potent weapon in the late innings as a lefty killing power bat off the bench.