Mariners News: Seattle Signs Cuban OF Guillermo Heredia

Jul 9, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Fans dance during the seventh inning stretch of a game between the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Fans dance during the seventh inning stretch of a game between the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Jerry Dipoto has been the busiest man in baseball this winter, and he made yet another move on Monday night.

The Seattle Mariners have reportedly signed Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia to a one year deal worth $500,000. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune broke the news last night, and the signing was confirmed this morning by Greg Johns of

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Nicknamed “El Conde,” Heredia is said to be a superb defender, but some scouts have voiced concern about his ability to hit at the big league level. He defected from Cuba in January of 2015, and had been living and training in Mexico prior to signing with Seattle. Heredia hits from the right side of the plate and throws left-handed.

Heredia has been playing professionally since he was 18, and he spent five full seasons in the Cuban National Series before defecting last year. He played well, but was not a star in his home country. Heredia hit .290 in 2009 with 2 home runs and 16 RBI across 67 games as a rookie with Cocodrilos de Matanzas. He also posted a .331 on base percentage and slugged .407 in 159 plate appearances.

Heredia took a step backwards during his sophomore campaign in 2010 with Matanzas. He slashed a mediocre .235/.290/.343 through 260 plate appearances as a 19-year-old. Heredia added 7 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, 19 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 81 games played.

The newest Mariner bounced back in a big way in 2011, playing the best baseball of his young career. Heredia dominated the competition, slashing .343/.439/.527 in 443 plate appearances. He also contributed 19 doubles, 9 triples, 10 home runs, 52 RBI and 3 stolen bases across 96 games. Most impressive of all, Heredia nursed 51 free passes while striking out just 38 times.

Heredia was viewed as a rising superstar entering the 2012 season, but he failed to replicate his breakthrough campaign. He hit .265 with 6 home runs and 24 RBI across 68 games with Matanzas. Heredia’s .384 slugging percentage was down over 100 points from the previous year. However, he still managed to register a .381 on base percentage and he tallied a career high 10 stolen bases.

Heredia continued to regress during his final season in the CNS. He posted a .255 batting average with 1 home run and 9 RBI through 61 games in 2013. Heredia’s .376 on base percentage was respectable, but his .349 slugging percentage left something to be desired.

Overall, the 25-year-old center fielder slashed .285/.376/.418 during his five seasons with Matanzas. He added 57 doubles, 15 triples, 23 home runs, 123 RBI and 20 stolen bases across 374 career games. Heredia has little trouble getting on base, and his patient approach at the plate is a key reason why. He worked 141 walks during his time in the CNS.

Heredia may have been inconsistent at the plate during his career in Cuba, but his work with the leather was very impressive. He posted a .978 fielding percentage and tallied 19 outfield assists with Matanzas. Heredia registered a 2.69 career range factor per 9 innings, and topped 2.70 twice in his five seasons. To put that in perspective, the MLB average range factor per 9 innings for a center fielder in 2015 was 2.41.

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Some may remember Heredia from the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where he served as the starting center fielder for the Cuban squad. Heredia had a miserable tournament, hitting .167 with 0 extra base hits and just 1 RBI across 6 games.

The 5’10/180 pound outfielder should get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Mariners opening day roster this spring. Heredia figures to battle with Shawn O’Malley and Boog Powell for the backup center field job in Arizona. O’Malley’s ability to play the infield and outfield likely gives him the early edge to head north to Seattle at the end of March, but Heredia has a legitimate chance to overtake him for the gig.

Next: Mariners Spring Training Recap: Day 4

At best, Guillermo Heredia will be the Mariners starting center fielder in the near future. At worst, he is a quality fourth outfielder who can defend all three positions. Heredia clearly has the skills to patrol center field, but his ability to hit big league pitching will determine his fate. He will definitely be a player to watch this spring in Peoria. Go Mariners!