Reflections on the Dodgers and Latin American Players

The Cincinnati Reds signed Aroldis Chapman. The Toronto Blue Jays signed Adeiny Hechevarria and the Twins signed Miguel Angel Sano. All three of those clubs have payrolls, and markets, that are exponentially smaller than that of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sure, the Dodgers were very recently hamstrung by financial constrictions due to the very public and ugly divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt, but even before any of that took place the club did not express interest in these guys. All of this is bringing me to a larger question.

Where is the Dodgers influence among the Latin American ballplayer? It has been a very long time since the Dodgers made a significant signing (maybe any signing, for that matter?) with a player from what is considered Latin America, and one has to wonder why that is. They are still effective in East Asia, with Chin-lung Hu and Hong-Chih Kuo most recently, but the last Spanish-speaking player of any consequence that I can remember them signing is Joel Guzman, and he was signed in 2001. Before that they signed Franklin Gutierrez in 2000.

Now, of course a lot of ballplayers don’t pan out, and Guzman certainly did not live up to the hype that came with him playing in two Futures Games, but the point of the matter still remains. Before Guzman and Gutierrez, the last significant signing was that of Adrian Beltre in 1994.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, the Dodgers were one of the premiere teams in signing International players be it from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan or what have you.

They signed Ramon Martinez in 1984, then followed that with Jose Offerman and Jose Vizcaino in 1986. Raul Mondesi and Pedro Martinez were both signed by the Dodgers in 1988. All of these players had enormous potential.

Wilton Guerrero and Ismael Valdez were signed in ’91 and Dennys Reyes in 1993, but after Beltre the the club has really fallen off the map, save for East Asia with guys like Hideo Nomo and Chan-Ho Park.

So why exactly have the Dodgers disappeared among competing for the top talent in Latin America? How have clubs like the Pirates and Reds suddenly become bigger players when it comes to this pool of talent?

The Dodgers are known, especially recently, for drafting and developing home-grown domestic talent, and maybe in an attempt to save a few bucks, they’ve kept their noses out of the running for the guys like Pablo Sandoval, Jesus Montero, etc…

But for a club that is in the top ten in payroll year in and year out, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Why is this happening, Dodger fans?

I pose this question to you.

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  1. Lasorda for President

    March 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I know the Dodgers got a slap on the wrist for signing Beltre when he was 15 and not 16, but that didn’t deter them from signing Franklin and Guzman several years later…I could understand if the reason was that none of the Latin players are the age they say they are, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have major league potential. Our current minor league strategy is lead by Logan White who is a genius in my opinion but what happens to our farm when he eventually becomes a general manager?

    The current reason for not spending money is cheapskate McCourt who believes that merely competing is enough to fill the seats, but spending for a championship will bankrupt him and force him to sell the team.

    Editor’s note: The rest of this comment was omitted.

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