Check it out. Here are some stats to chew on. Revised Zone Rating (RZR) and Out of Zone plays (OOZ) are John Dewan stats. RZR tells us the percentage of plays within the player's zone that are made. RZR is primarily a measure of how well a fielder does on the routine plays, but if a fielder has really bad range that'll show up. OOZ is the number of plays out of the zone made. Range Runs (RngR) is a Mitchel Lichtman stat that tells us the number of runs a fielder prevents compared to an average fielder, just based on range (excluding arm, errors, and double plays turned):
If you aren't interested in the detaily mumbo-jumbo, just observe that his stats really haven't declined at all since he came to DC. Nor was he ever all that impressive to begin with, but he's basically the same below-average, basically adequate fielder that he's always been.
Guzzy's problem is that Rizzo doesn't want below-average adequate at shortstop. He want defensive whizzes who will help his army of groundball pitchers. If the infield is good enough, he thinks, maybe, just maybe, Trevor Holder won't be a total waste of time and money.
Yeah, it's possible that the Nationals see something that the stats don't. Guzman IS at the age that you start to think that his range might decline next year. But I've obsessed over Guzman's defense an awful lot over the last five years, and I don't see it. And like Rizzo says, you really feel confident when the stats confirm what your own eyes tell you.
Some of you are probably thinking, "what?? Guzman is terrible!! And you hate him!!!" Well, I don't think Guzman is terrible. He's just not nearly good enough to justify $32 million in six years and Brian Duensing. And I get annoyed at how his batting average gets too much attention (and OBP not enough) from some in the media. (And I find his approach at the plate aesthetically unpleasing, but that's just me.)
But I kind of doubt that the "Guzman is declining" line is the real story. The reality, I bet, is that last GM didn't care about fielding, and Rizzo does. But it's hard to say, "yeah, we negotiated a contract with you, and you've been exactly the guy we expected you to be, but we're just changing our minds. Now you need to play a different position.
Sure, they could say that. Meet the new boss. Not the same as the old boss. Tough luck, buddy. Wipe your tears with one of your $32 million undeserved bucks.
But most likely Guzman's gonna pout, thinking, "dang, I never would have resigned here if I knew you were going to make me play a new position." And if he's a malcontent, that's probably not good for the Nationals.
Personally, I think it would make the team (marginally) better to move him to second, so I'm ok with it. But I don't quite buy what they're selling, and I wonder how Guzman is reacting in the clubhouse. It might be better to just trade him this winter before he becomes the next Felipe Lopez.