As the MLB winter meetings have started heating up, we learned from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that the Rockies would be willing to part with star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Naturally, one questions comes to mind. What teams could use Gonzalez the most?
Just missing the cut
Arizona Diamondbacks: Ender Inciarte and David Peralta are fine players, but neither is at CarGo’s level. The problem is that even with Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks need to focus their energy elsewhere. Gonzalez would make their offense better, but I don’t know how much better he’d make the team. Additionally, while I doubt that the Rockies would be unwilling to trade within the division, it’s doubtful that they’d do so cheap.
San Francisco Giants: Swap out Zack Greinke’s name and insert Jeff Samardzija’s. Swap out Inciarte and Peralta for Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco. Everything else that applied to the D-Backs applies to the Giants.
Toronto Blue Jays: Like the Diamondbacks and Giants, Toronto has more pressing needs to fill. The assets that would likely be needed to acquire Gonzalez should be used to acquire a pitcher. Plus, ask the Colorado Rockies what it’s like to have Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in the same lineup. Very lethal, but only when both are healthy. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista maybe can’t be labeled as injury prone, but they’re not exactly iron men either.
Washington Nationals: The Nats could definitely use some pop to mix in with Bryce Harper, but CarGo needs to be in left or right field. Michael Taylor deserves a chance to play, Harper is obviously going nowhere and while Jayson Werth would seem like a natural odd-man out, his contract will make him very hard to move.
Why it works: Take a quick look at some of the 2016 ages of the Tigers best players and tell me if this team should be in anything other than “win now” mode.
- Victor Martinez, 37
- Francisco Rodriguez, 34
- Ian Kinsler, 34
- Justin Verlander, 33
- Miguel Cabrera, 33
- Anibal Sanchez, 32
- Jordan Zimmermann, 30
The recent trade for K-Rod and big contract given to Zimmermann tells me that this team isn’t quite ready to cede the AL Central to the Royals.
Gonzalez is also a left-handed power bat, which is something that the Tigers really haven’t had since Prince Fielder, although Martinez is a switch hitter.
Reasons to be apprehensive: The fit works, but Gonzalez would work especially well with an American League team because of his injury history. Yes, players from the American League get hurt, too, but being able to DH saves the body a lot of wear and tear. With Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera on the roster, Carlos Gonzalez wouldn’t be seeing a lot of time at DH.
Still, Gonzalez has won three Gold Glove awards playing in one of the most spacious parks in the league. They may need to be conservative with his playing time, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Another problem is that even if the Tigers land Gonzalez and get top production from him, the Royals are a better team.
With that said, the American League Wild Card spots are open for grabs. Detroit won the AL Central from 2011-2014 and while 2015 was a down year, that’s still a talented (if old) roster. Even if the Royals run away with the Central again, the Tigers could follow the 2014 model set by both the Giants and Royals and get to or win the Fall Classic from the Wild Card game. Gonzalez would help that cause.
Los Angeles Angels
Why it works: The Halos won 98 games in 2014 and missed the Wild Card spot by one game in 2015. They’re not that far off. Gonzalez would be a pretty big upgrade from Efren Navarro in left field and an Angels lineup would look downright lethal with Gonzalez, Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols (when he returns). From what I understand, Mike Trout might be decent, as well, but please correct me if I’m wrong.
If Andrelton Simmons finds his hitting form again and Kaleb Cowart begins to produce in a way that his Minor League numbers tell us he’s capable of, that has the makings of being one of baseball’s best lineups.
With all due respect to the 2015 playoff seasons of the Rangers and Astros, the American League West is there to be had. Much like the Tigers, the Angels are certainly in play for a Wild Card.
Reasons to be apprehensive: Also, much like the Tigers, the DH spot is probably occupied. When Pujols returns from his injury, he should be spending most of his time at DH, with C.J. Cron playing first. Keeping Gonzalez on the field would come down to being smart with his time and of course, good luck.
This isn’t a huge concern, though, as the Angels offense would be good enough to withstand an injury from Gonzalez.
The bigger issue is that the Angels do have other holes, notably in their pitching. But while they don’t have a classic ace, the Angels do have a starting rotation that stacks up pretty well to a team like the Royals. The Halos could definitely improve their bullpen, but that’s the kind of thing that can be done with quieter moves as the season gets closer, or even underway.
Why it works: Gonzalez would provide a big upgrade from either Nolan Reimold or Ryan Flaherty in either left or right field. Also, while he wouldn’t quite fill all of the numbers left by Chris Davis, CarGo is a pretty good step in the right direction. Davis for more power but if you put Gonzalez in the same lineup as Adam Jonez, Mark Trumbo, and Manny Machado, your power should be more than adequate.
Also, while there’s a very natural cloud of doubt that will happen with any hitter leaving Coors Field, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a pretty soft landing spot.
Going back to 2001, Baltimore has rated as a 1.16 on ESPN’s Park Factors home run rating, with anything above 1.00 considered hitter-friendly. True, it’s not the 1.31 that Colorado averages, but he wouldn’t exactly be going to Yosemite, either. Also, unlike Detroit and Anaheim, Gonzalez could DH here whenever needed. Maintaining power would not be a problem.
Reasons to be apprehensive: Like the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Blue Jays, the Orioles have other needs to be filled. But there are a couple differences.
- Those teams aren’t losing a hitter like Chris Davis.
- Those teams could all claim to be a real World Series contender with even 1-2 under the radar moves to improve the pitching (starting or bullpen). The Orioles aren’t bad, but I’m not sure they’re at that point. If they add a hitter like Gonzalez, they become a real contender in the AL East and could then try to maneuver to improve the pitching.
New York Mets
Why it works: This is our only National League team. Given how playing some DH could help with Gonzalez’s injury history and the fact that he plays on a National League team, the American League is the better overall fit.
But while he might fit better overall in the junior circuit, Carlos Gonzalez fits better with the Mets than any one team in either league.
This Grienke contract shows again that the Mets should be all in while they have control of the young arms
— Evan Roberts (@EvanRobertsWFAN) December 5, 2015
As I’m sure the Washington Nationals would attest, the window is never as open as it appears and absolutely nothing is guaranteed. The Mets went all in last year with Yoenis Cespedes and got to the World Series.
The Mets website has their unofficial outfield listed as Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, and Curtis Granderson. It’s not hard to see how Gonzalez would fit into that mix.
Also, unlike Cespedes, Gonzalez is under contract for two seasons, so the Mets would get two cracks at getting over the hump.
Reasons to be apprehensive: Conforto and/or Brandon Nimmo would likely be traded in this move, or at least blocked. The bigger concern is that Gonzalez would be moving from Colorado’s live yard to Citi Field, which tends to favor the pitcher. Gonzalez also has a slash line of .115/.207/.250 in Queens.
Still, that’s only in 52 at-bats, which isn’t exactly a big sample size. Also, anything Gonzalez has done at Citi Field in the past has been against Mets pitchers. Obviously, that would not be the case here. There’s an element of gambling in every trade but if the Mets could pull this off and not have to part with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, or Steven Matz, it’s a risk worth taking.