LaPorta, the key player acquired in a 2008 trade for CC Sabathia, was sent to the minors with two others Tuesday as general manager Chris Antonetti confirmed the Indians scouted Guerrero at the team's academy in the Dominican Republic.
"I wouldn't read too much into it," Antonetti cautioned. "Vlady continues to have an interest in playing. He asked that we work him out and we did."
LaPorta and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall were optioned to Triple-A Columbus, while outfielder Chad Huffman was reassigned to minor league camp. Chisenhall's demotion means Jack Hannahan, considered more advanced in the field, has won the starting job at third in Cleveland's lefty-oriented lineup.
"Lonnie needs to play," manager Manny Acta said. "We know he's going to be the main guy here for years. Hannahan fits our team well with all of our ground-ball pitchers.
"We do need to score some runs, too."
A right-handed power bat would be welcome. Guerrero has been one of the best for 16 seasons. The former MVP and nine-time All-Star is a .318 hitter with 449 homers. He hit .290 with 13 homers in 145 games as a full-time designated hitter for Baltimore in 2011.
"He hasn't played the outfield recently," Antonetti noted of the 37-year-old. Guerrero played 18 games in the outfield and was a DH for 129 games with Texas in 2010.
With lefty Travis Hafner at DH, the Indians could platoon Guerrero there, but he probably needs to show he could play some outfield to warrant a signing.
"We continue to talk with teams," Antonetti said. "Talks have picked up in the last week, but that is normal with all teams."
LaPorta was lackluster all spring. He hit .167 with two RBIs in 14 games.
The first baseman, outfielder Michael Brantley and pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson were obtained for 2007 Cy Young winner Sabathia in July 2008. Expected to be a run producer, LaPorta has struggled in parts of three years for Cleveland, batting just .238 in 269 games, with 30 homers and 115 RBIs.
"Matt continues to demonstrate in spurts that he can be a quality middle-of-the-order player," Antonetti said. "Hopefully he can go down, play regularly and get that consistency we are seeking."
Acta said LaPorta handled the demotion well.
"The opportunity was there," Acta said. "If he hit the way we feel he can, he could grab a job. He never had a bad attitude. It just didn't work out."
Chisenhall, the Indians' top draft pick in 2008, batted .205 this spring. He hit .255 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in a 66-game call-up to Cleveland a year ago.
"There's still a lot of positives with Lonnie," Antonetti said. "He's still only 23 with fewer than 300 Triple-A plate appearances. He's made strides defensively. Offensively, he needs to gain consistency. Fundamentally, he has a very good swing. He needs to manage the strike zone a little better."
Cleveland still has 43 players in major league camp. Acta said more cuts could be expected after Cleveland plays split-squad games against Colorado and Arizona on Thursday.