Ex-Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, Indians Reportedly Agree to Minors Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2019

Colorado Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez watches his three-run triple off San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Ty Blach in the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Carlos Gonzalez is on the move after spending a decade with the Colorado Rockies. He reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2 million minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the news and noted the deal includes an opt-out clause if the outfielder is not on the big league roster in early April. Jon Heyman of MLB Network provided the financial terms, which also includes $1 million in potential incentives.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez does indeed have a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians, sources tell ESPN. It will pay him $2 million if he makes the major league roster, which, with the Indians’ current outfield, is very likely.

The Rockies' rise to playoff contention in 2017 and 2018 was in inverse relation to Gonzalez's decline. The outfielder won a Silver Slugger Award in 2015 and was an All-Star for the third time in 2016, but Colorado finished under .500 in each of those seasons.

When the Rockies returned to the postseason in 2017, his minus-0.1 WAR was the second-lowest of his career. He improved in 2018 (1.7 WAR) as Colorado returned to the playoffs but was still a clear step below the player he was only two years ago.

In 132 games, Gonzalez had a .276/.329/.467 slash line to go along with 16 home runs and 64 RBI. In comparison, he averaged .295 and slugged .534 in his first eight years with the Rockies, per Baseball Reference.

After much was made of the spending—or lack thereof—during the 2017-18 MLB offseason, Gonzalez seemed like the kind of veteran who was bound to have a few tense weeks and potentially even months before he found a new home.

He didn't re-sign with the Rockies until March 2018, settling for a one-year, $5 million deal, and his stock hasn't risen significantly since then.

Gonzalez is on the wrong side of 30, having turned 33 in October. On top of that, persistent injury problems have dogged him throughout his MLB career. He has averaged 129 appearances per season since 2010—his first year in Colorado's Opening Day starting lineup.

One could argue Gonzalez's newest contract is more an indictment of the current free-agent landscape than a true assessment of his value. For years, teams overpaid based on past production rather than future performance. The pendulum has since swung in the opposite direction.

There are age and injury-related concerns about what Gonzalez can do going forward, but he remained a solid offensive presence for the Rockies. While his power is trending downward, he gets on base at a high percentage, and there's little reason to think that will take a turn for the worse in 2019.

That's to say nothing of the intangible impact Gonzalez provides in the clubhouse.

"I love CarGo," Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado said when Gonzalez re-signed ahead of the 2018 campaign, per MLB.com's Thomas Harding. "He's been an older brother to me my whole career."

Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon was similarly effusive with his praise: "He's always smiling, in a good mood, nice guy. Also pretty good at hitting balls over the fence."

Quantifying a player's leadership is impossible, but there's a clear benefit to bringing experienced players such as Gonzalez aboard.

Signing Gonzalez should prove to be a shrewd move for Cleveland, which needed outfield depth. The team's newest addition should compete with Tyler Naquin for a starting role for the remainder of spring training.


Stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.


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