It was a bad week for clubhouse presence as some former all-stars sat down for awkward talks with their GMs all over baseball.
Let’s take a gander at who got designated for assignment.
Jimmy Rollins, White Sox
Rollins had just finished hitting .224 with a .642 OPS and 12 SB in 20 tries with the Dodgers when Chicago first signed him. He was clearly entering a new phase of his career, having spent 14 seasons in Phillies red, but his numbers were having trouble keeping up with him. The White Sox, needing middle infield help, weren't too scared of his natural decline to offer him a $2 million minor league deal this past February, and it was assumed that, barring a major change, Rollins would be Chicago’s opening day SS, which he was.
But now it’s mid-June, and the White Sox are getting antsy, having lost 15 of their last 21 just before cutting Rollins, trading for James Shields, and dragging Justin Morneau out of retirement. Rollins’ .221 BA - it sinks to .195 if you’re measuring it from April 25 - was not enough to fend off the 23-year-olds like Tim Anderson gunning for his job.
Carl Crawford, Dodgers
Crawford, on the other hand, wasn’t on a plucky minor league deal. The Dodgers forked over plenty of money (On a seven-year, $142 million, Crawford still had $35 million owed through 2017 at the time of his DFA’ing) and made Crawford a part of the largest trade in the history of their franchise, acquiring Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett from the Red Sox in 2012. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says he saw this coming from a long way off, calling Crawford “arguably the worst free agent signing in Red Sox history.”
It was a dream come true for the Red Sox when the Dodgers came along and wanted Gonzalez. The Sox made them take on the hefty contracts of Beckett and Crawford, and [Nick] Punto was a useful player thrown in at the Dodgers’ request. The Dodgers certainly knew of Crawford’s decline, but they had to take on his contract to secure Gonzalez, whom the Red Sox did not want to deal.
Crawford lost time almost every year in L.A. to injury: In 2013 it was a hamstring, 2014 was a sprained ankle, and last season saw him tear an oblique muscle that allowed him to appear in only 69 games. 2016 was less about his health and more about his slash line: .185/.230/.235 in 30 games. The decline was real, and the Dodgers didn’t want to watch.
Mat Latos, White Sox
Included in the White Sox’ recent fit of roster moves was the DFA’ing of Mat Latos, following weeks of internal discussion on the matter. Latos had thrown 60.1 IP for Chicago this season and was still sitting on a 4.62 ERA. His last start, an under-5.0 IP disaster against the Nationals in which he logged 4 BB and 6 ER, seemed to make the team feel okay enough about the decision to pull the trigger.
It wasn’t Latos’ first poor start this year; since April, the righty hasn’t lasted past the fifth inning too often, allowing 25 ER, 17 BB, and 7 HR in that span. It’s simply not effective enough for a team that has to fend off the Royals on the regular, and watching Latos’ numbers trend upward over the last month was not the encouragement the front office needed to see after signing him to a one-year, $3 million deal - which is especially discouraging, following Latos’ rampage of a start in his first four games, through which his ERA was a balmy 0.74.
The mean: We all regress to it eventually.
Omar Infante, Royals
Infante has not been the presence the Royals hoped for when they brought him on board prior to 2014. Six games into his deal, he took a Heath Bell pitch off the jaw and some point to that moment as the reason his offense took a dive. A .238 hitter during his career in Kansas City, Infante hadn’t seen daylight in two weeks prior to being DFA’d, and it was determined to be the way to go at the sacrifice of the $7.75 million owed to him for this year, as well as the $10 million price tag on the rest of his deal.
Infante had put together a solid year in Detroit in 2013, giving Kansas City the encouragement to grab him. But his bat never came around, at least not as well as his glove and base running did, and the Royals wound up having to make up for that hole in the lineup - which, obviously they were able to, making two straight World Series appearances. Still, the winds of change are blowing in KC, and a Kansas City Star columnist had an ominous warning for another Royals vet following this news.
Now would be a good time for Kendrys Morales to start hitting.
Alex Guerrero, Dodgers
The Dodgers watched the clock tick on the 20 days they had to do something with Guerrero following his rehab assignment. He wasn’t going to give them permission to station him somewhere in the minors, and they were forced to put him on the roster or cut him loose. By the end of it, they decided that the DFA was the way to go for yet another player.
When you make it your goal to sign every baseball player in the known universe, you’re going to wind up with some spare parts. The Dodgers’ outfield situation simply had too many names, and Guerrero, having busted his knee in spring training, was deemed superfluous to the cause. Even his infield qualifications faded away as the Dodgers stacked multiple options on top of him, like Howie Kendrick, Kiké Hernandez, and Micah Johnson all lined up in back of starters Justin Turner and Chase Utley. Guerrero hit .233 with 11 HR in 106 games last season; nothing that would make the Dodgers hem and haw over him for a particularly prolonged period of time.
Editor’s note: This story originally included Jose Reyes, who was also designated for assignment in the past week. Reyes received a DFA after his suspension from a domestic violence arrest and after realizing the editorial mistake, we know that it was wrong to include him in this post because of the domestic violence arrest. We apologize for and will not repeat this hurtful mistake.