Let the kids play Astros!
There was a time that Astros fans would have loved to sign or trade for Adrian Gonzalez. He was one of those lefty power hitters that makes Jeff Luhnow get giddy. That was then; now he was someone the Dodgers didn’t want on the roster. They wanted to move his contract, but Gonzalez struggled in 2017 to produce.
He lost his job to rising star Cody Bellinger. While he was one of the main stars of the 2016 season for the Dodgers, he took a big step back in 2017. While back problems limited his 2017 season, he missed the entire playoffs as well. He only started 57 games, while appearing in only 71 games.
Gonzalez is not really a candidate to move to the outfield, so the Dodgers had no room for him with Bellinger’s breakout season. During the Winter Meetings, Gonzalez was part of a salary dump trade between the Braves and Dodgers. Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Charlie Culberson were traded to the Braves. In return, the Dodgers got Matt Kemp.
Gonzalez had a full no-trade clause, so he had to agree to the trade. Apparently, the Braves had little intentions of retaining Gonzalez. According to Mark Bowman, the Braves agreed to designate him for assignment if he waived his no-trade clause. He did so, and the Braves made good on their promise.
The Braves will be on the hook for Gonzalez’s 21.5 million dollar salary for 2018. The Dodgers also sent $4.5 million to the Braves to help out. Either way, Gonzalez is free to sign with any team with that team only paying the minimum to sign him.
Why is this a big deal regarding the Astros?
You can thank Richard Justice who brought the idea of the Astros signing him. He could replace the bat of Carlos Beltran as the left-handed complement to Evan Gattis at DH. However, he would be blocking some young talent on the 25-man roster. If Gonzalez hadn’t taken that step back in 2017, it would be a different story, but Tyler White, Derek Fisher, Colin Moran, and A.J. Reed could be better.
Yes, he is still only 35 and could have a bounce-back season. In a letter to Dodgers fans, Gonzalez said that he accepted the trade not because of playing time. He had accepted the bench role with the Dodgers but wanted to have a chance to find a better fit elsewhere. Unless he bounces back big time, then there is no chance that he starts with the Astros. We have a similar (possibly better) player in Marwin Gonzalez who can play his role.
Because of the Astros success, there have been some prospects stall out as the big boys leapfrog them. Alex Bregman and Fisher spent little time at Triple-A, where White, Tony Kemp, and others have stuck around longer. We already had to DFA Preston Tucker to make room for Hector Rendon. Gonzalez only hit .242 last season and hit three homers in his 231 at-bats in 2017.
Who would we lose to pick up Gonzalez?
This player we could need to DFA could go on to another team and be a star. Not that it matters, but it would confuse us writers with two Gonzalez’s on the team. This Spring we will see some player step up to become that extra bat that Gonzalez would have represented. If the Dodgers didn’t need him, why would the Astros? He will probably end up with the Padres to see if he has anything left.
The Astros need to stay away, even though the temptation is there. If he’s still around during Spring, you can revisit it depending on the health of the team. He may not cost too much money to sign, but he will cost playing time from our future stars. We have the set core of players already. Say no to Gonzalez, Adrian that is.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***