The Detroit Tigers need a first baseman. Does a trade for Ronald Guzman make sense? Let’s break it down.
The Texas Rangers have had a busy off-season so far with being one of the few teams who have been making trades. One that perked up the interest of Detroit Tigers fans (well, maybe a few) was the trade for first baseman Nate Lowe. This was a player I hope the Tigers would perhaps even entertain the idea for but alas, this was a player Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels has been targeting for quite some time.
“Nate is a player we have had an interest in for a few years in different conversations with Tampa. There was a point this summer where we thought something might happen,” Daniels said in a call to the media a few weeks back.
Enter Ronald Guzman, the left-handed 6’5 first baseman who is currently playing for the Gigantes del Cibao down in the Dominican Winter League. He has been putting up some impressive numbers enough to get some consideration for LIDOM MVP honors for the numbers he has put up. His slash line of .361/.449/.528 with an OPS of .977 is among the league’s best. (35-for-108) with five home runs and has drawn 15 walks. His defensive range, which was a knock on him as a prospect…well, on this play, that was proven otherwise. Goes beyond “warrior pose”.
Here’s his power on display so far in winter ball.
Breaking down the numbers
Ronald Guzman has a raw power tool that grades high but so far, he seems to be more hit-over power as evident by his .187 ISO numbers. His strikeout rate is 28.7% but his career walk rate of 8.9% would put him among the leaders for the Tigers. His DFS saved in 2019 (more innings and games to work with) was 4 so combine that with Jeimer Candelario, that is some sound defense at both corners of the infield.
What gives me pause is how he hits against breaking balls. With a small sample size to work within 2020, he hit .154 in 98 pitches he faced. He did see an uptake in Chase Contact%, at 54.8% this season.
While we can assume it is a foregone conclusion that Spencer Torkelson is the first baseman of the future, Guzman is arbitration-eligible in 2022 and is out of minor league options. As much as Tigers fans hate the idea if a player does well, the front office trades him, I really never saw the problem with it if they have no intentions of having a player sticking around long term. If Torkelson is the real deal, then it is a good problem to have Guzman do well and flip him for a player Detroit could use in a position of need.
Does it make sense for the Detroit Tigers?
The Rangers are cleary are going in a different direction at first base. What would it cost the Tigers? Perhaps a few minor leaguers. Texas may want more but if they are asking for a Top 20 prospect, I would pass.
Trading for Ronald Guzman would give a lefty bat and that I believe would work well at Comerica Park. I have been watching a lot of Dominican winter ball admittedly so this is where this idea came to mind. He has been a fun watch.
Sometimes, a player needs a change of scenery. He was sent down after making the Opening Day roster after five games to rework his swing. He didn’t seem to grab the position when it was available in the month of September, thus why Jon Daniels pulled the trigger for Lowe.
The Detroit Tigers have to consider any possibilities to fill a void. If they are thinking long term and do not want to sign a player to a multiple-year deal, then making trades for player like Guzman, who has a good glove at first and the Tigers can provide the at-bats to see if he will sink or swim. Combine that with Miguel Cabrera from the right side, that makes for a decent platoon situation.
I am open to other suggestions. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the section below or tweet at me, @rogcastbaseball.