The Astros have announced another trade this afternoon. The club has acquired OF/1B Jesus Guzman from the San Diego Padres in exchange for SS Ryan Jackson. It is the second trade with the Padres in less than a week. RHP Anthony Bass was acquired from San Diego last Wednesday.
Guzman, who bats and throws right-handed, could be seen as a platoon partner for Brett Wallace at first base. Or, he could see more action in leftfield. Only time will tell. The 29-year old from Venezuela owns a career slash line of .259/.324/.418 in 930 total plate appearances.
After seven seasons in the minors that featured a 2009 cup of coffee with the Giants, Guzman finally stuck in the big leagues in 2011. In his first season in the Padres organization, Guzman made the most of a mid-season promotion. In 76 games, Jesus slashed .312/.369/.478 and drove in 44 runs for The Swinging Friars. His OPS+ of 139 was tops on the team.
With increased playing time over the last two seasons, Guzman’s productivity has seen a decline. His OPS+ was still a respectable 107 in 2012, but dropped to 94 last season. Playing his home games in spacious PetCo Park could be taking a toll on Guzman. Last year, all nine of his homeruns were hit on the road. Perhaps a change of address will be beneficial.
Guzman started his career as a third-baseman before moving across the diamond and eventually arriving in the big leagues as a first-baseman. In an effort to get his bat into the lineup, the Padres began deploying Jesus in leftfield. Although his defense in the outfield is below average, the versatility has helped to boost his playing time.
How Guzman fits in with the Astros remains to be seen. To me, he seems like one of those role type players that can come off the bench — get a key hit — and stay in the game thanks to his positional versatility. Unlike some players, I don’t think he needs to play every day to stay sharp. On the other hand, he seems like the kind of guy you want to pencil in for a few days in a row when he is riding a hot streak. The addition of Guzman would appear to give the Astros more options than they had without him — and that is a good thing.
As for Ryan Jackson, we never got a chance to see him put on an Astros uniform. The Padres wanted him… and they got him. The departure of Jackson means Marwin Gonzalez likely slides back into the backup infielder’s role.