It is late and you are likely not awake. Guess what? Jerry Dipoto literally gives zero shits. Coming across the Lookout News Desk and fresh off the presses is the news that the Seattle Mariners have signed Cuban center fielder Guillermo Heredia, pending a physical. Heredia recently defected from Cuba in January, and at the age of 25 has amassed enough professional experience to be exempt from the international bonus pool which means that teams were free to sign him for any amount and any length of contract.
MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) February 23, 2016
Dipping in to the Cuban market, especially for a player that has zero impact on the club's ability to sign additional international players that would draw from the bonus pool, feels like a slick move by Dipoto. What's more is that Heredia appears to fulfill the "athletic outfield" mentality that Jerry espoused when first addressing needs in the early offseason. A switch hitter who appears to have recently moved on to batting only from the right side of the plate, Heredia could prove to be an ideal platoon partner with Leonys Martin.
There are a lot of unknowns here, and the deal is still, as stated above, pending a physical, but looks to be a great get for a young talent at a premium position. In terms of immediate effects on the roster, there should be an open 40-man roster spot due to Jesus Sucre vacating his space on it from injury. What's more, this may give a much clearer picture of the battle for the fourth outfield spot. As of now, Shawn O'Malley or Boog Powell looked to be dueling it out for a potential backup CF roll, however Heredia may force the issue.
What remains to be seen is how the roster will ultimately come together with two potential platoons between Franklin Gutierrez/Seth Smith and Leonys Martin/Heredia-O'Malley-Powell. It may even prove the case that Heredia plays some corner spots as he looks to have done some deputizing in right field and possesses a plus arm.
Below is a video of Heredia taking swings from both sides of the plate this past October, and I think it is relatively evident that he may be encouraged to hit only from the right side at the major league level. The left handed swing looks shortened, less follow-through, and just a little clunkier. Here's to hoping that Edgar can get the kid really working, he certainly has the body to generate some pop.
I am sure we will spill a lot of words about this move in the coming week and beyond, but for now, this looks like a really slick move for a glove-first outfielder entering the prime of his career. That sounds pretty alright with me.