There was a time when outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, with his beautiful lefty swing and lighting quick bat, was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Sure, he was particularly good at Coors Field, but man, don’t you remember how he used to kill the Cubs at Wrigley Field?
Those years are long in the past for Gonzalez, 33, who hasn’t posted an above-average offensive season since 2016 and was brutal in a short stint with the Indians this year. But, you never know what might happen when a once great veteran heads to a new organization, and the Cubs are going to be that new organization for CarGo.
Per multiple reports, the Cubs are signing Gonzalez to a minor league contract after his release by the Indians. Gonzalez may head to AAA Iowa for a period of time, or it’s possible he’ll join the Cubs sooner than that, replacing Jim Adduci on the roster.
The move is a very welcomed one for veteran outfield depth given the extended absence of Ben Zobrist, whose return may be weeks or months away, if he returns at all. We really don’t know. Moreover, the Cubs have been somewhat limited on lefty bat options for matching up, and if Gonzalez winds up swapping out with Adduci, then at least they can get Gonzalez a look against righties to see if he has anything left in the tank. He hit .284/.344/.485 (104 wRC+) against them last year, for what that’s worth.
What it says about Ian Happ’s progress at Iowa is not necessarily significant, as his demotion was always designed to be a long-term move for his development. And if the Cubs don’t want to risk impeding that process for near-term needs, good to have another outfielder available.
As for Gonzalez’s stats, it’s virtually worthless to go over them in too great of a depth without digging in much more deeply on just what has gone wrong for him the last few years. We’ll do that if and when he joins the big league team, but in the interest of getting this news out, I’ll reiterate that the dude was just fantastic in his 20s, and has fallen off a cliff in his early 30s – strikeouts climbed, power faded, walks fell, soft contact exploded.
We’ll see what happens. Unlikely upside. But no risk here, so I like it.
UPDATE: Sounds like Gonzalez will indeed first report to the Iowa Cubs on Saturday, and the Cubs will presumably then get a sense of how he’s looking, how he’s feeling, and how they might be able to incorporate him on the big league bench if it comes to that. In the meantime, he can be a veteran presence there at Iowa, and maybe impart some wisdom.