The Los Angeles Dodgers went into Spring Training the past few seasons with a surplus of outfielders, but due to injuries, the situation has always seemed to work itself out.
That is again the case this year, as even despite the departures of Howie Kendrick and Josh Reddick, the organization still has the depth to platoon with a Major-League caliber outfielder at each of the three outfield spots.
And that held true prior to the club signing former Seattle Mariners outfielder Frankin Gutierrez to a one-year, $2.6 million contract.
The 34-year-old, who was originally signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 2000, is known to hit left-handed pitching well, which an area that Los Angeles struggled mightily in 2016.
While how much playing time Gutierrez will receive this season is unknown, his contract includes incentives based on plate appearances, via the Associated Press:
He can earn $400,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $100,000 each for 400 and 450, and $200,000 for 500.
Gutierrez has dealt with a multitude of injuries throughout his 11-year Major League career, including missing the entire 2014 season after being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.
He’s eclipsed the 400-plate appearance plateau just three times (2008-10), and has not logged more than 283 plate appearances since 2011.
Last season, Gutierrez hit .246/.329/.452 with 14 home runs in 98 games (283 plate appearances). He has a career 129 wRC+ and .289/.351/.495 batting line against southpaws, so that should bode well for him in terms of playing time.
As it currently stands, Joc Pederson is set to be the Dodgers’ everyday center fielder and Yasiel Puig is the favorite to start in right. Other names that could be in the mix along with Gutierrez are Brett Eibner, Andre Ethier, Kiké Hernandez, Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles and Scott Van Slyke.
It is plausible that Gutierrez will findl himself part of a platoon with a left-handed hitter — perhaps Ethier or Toles — in left field this season.