The future looks bright for Carlos Gonzalez…
The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player, an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, is reportedly getting interest from the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, according to ESPN.
Gonzalez started the season on a slow start in 2015, hitting .219 with four home runs through May, but belted 27 home runs in the second half and finished with a .271/.325/.540 batting line with 40 home runs. After an injury-plagued 2014, that strong second half rebuilt his trade value, and now the Rockies are listening to offers.
With two years left on his contract at $17 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017, Gonzalez could be an attractive, shorter-term outfield option for those teams wary of giving $100 million-plus to Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes or betting an Alex Gordon to remain productive into his mid-30s.
Gonzalez would be an obvious fit for all three teams that have shown interest: The Nationals are currently counting on Jayson Werth, coming off a .685 OPS season, and Michael Taylor, who posted a .640 OPS as a rookie; the Cardinals just lost Jason Heyward and could use a power bat, and they could put Gonzalez in right field and play Stephen Piscotty at first base; the Giants are looking for a left fielder.
Gonzalez’s value is also very difficult to peg. He played just 180 games in 2013 and 2014 combined, and everyone is going to point to his home/road splits: Over the past three seasons, he has a .952 OPS at Coors Field, .780 on the road. If teams are going to discount Gonzalez because of that, are the Rockies better off just hanging on to him? There’s also the possibility that those splits are overblown, that if Gonzalez is traded then what I call the “Coors Effect” will go away and the splits will normalize. The bigger concern may be that Gonzalez hasn’t hit lefties well in recent seasons, including 2015, when he had a .530 OPS against them.
Still, he’s a 30-homer bat if he stays healthy and a capable defender in a corner outfield position. If I’m one of those teams above, I like the idea of trading prospects for Gonzalez rather than spending big money on one of the free agents.