A few days ago, I heard about Dodger interest in Scott Rolen as a potential 3B/1B backup type, and while I was working to confirm that for a post tonight, Buster Olney had to go and put it out there, so there it is. Going a bit further, I believe Rolen is likely to make a decision in the next 24-48 hours.
Rolen, 38 in April and a borderline Hall of Famer, has been with the Reds for the last four years and reportedly had not yet decided if he wanted to play in 2013 or not. If he does, it’s not likely to be with Cincinnati, who has Todd Frazier ready to step in at third and also signed Jack Hannahan to a two-year deal this winter.
The immediate reaction from fans to this news has been… well, less than positive, and it’s easy to see why. He’s missed a ton of time over the last two years with left shoulder woes — yes, that’s the same shoulder that he originally hurt way back in 2005 when he tried to run over Hee-Seop Choi and lost — and he’s been mostly ineffective when he’s played, hitting only .244/.301/.397 in 599 plate appearances. That said, he did hit a respectable .277/.354/.441 in 229 plate appearances from June on last year after recovering from injury, so that’s at least encouraging. He’s also played exactly zero major league innings at first base in a career that spans back to 1996 — I mean, Ozzie Smith played in Rolen’s major league debut — but that’s a need that seems somewhat small, and it doesn’t seem unrealistic for Rolen to make that work on a limited basis.
So do the Dodgers need yet another injury-prone veteran who was great five years ago? If you want to argue they don’t, I won’t push back on that too hard, given that they have plenty of guys like that around already. Still, it was only two years ago that he was healthy and hitting .285/.358/.497, and to be quite honest, the other options are just non-existent. Who else, really, is out there to bring in? As I’ve said, you just cannot go into the season with only Luis Cruz & Hanley Ramirez on the left side, and this would not only add another option to the bench, it’d give some kind of alternative if Cruz proves last year was a mirage.
Again, Rolen may yet choose to retire, and if not he may not want to come to Los Angeles and leave his family in Indiana. (Though he does hail from Evansville, just like Don Mattingly.) I think there’s a real chance this could happen, but for now I’ll file it under “acceptable if it does just because there’s really nowhere else to turn.” If anything, it’d seem to expedite the departure of Juan Uribe out of town, so maybe that’s a win in itself.