On Thursday night, the Colorado Rockies reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, bringing the 32-year old back into the fold after a disappointing 2017.
I figured it would be a one-year deal for Gonzalez, but what blew my mind was Friday morning, when Gonzalez’s salary on the contract was reported at a whopping $8 million.
Carlos Gonzalez gets $8 million from#Rockies
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 9, 2018
For context, that is the fifth-largest contract given to an outfielder this offseason, behind JD Martinez, Justin Upton, Lorenzo Cain, and Jay Bruce (who all got multi-year deals), tied with Eduardo Nunez (who is primarily an infielder), and ahead of guys like Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gomez, Cameron Maybin, and Jon Jay.
As for why this is so surprising, it’s pretty simple – Gonzalez isn’t all that good anymore. In 2017, he hit .262/.339/.423 with just 14 home runs, good for a pithy 84 wRC+ in hitter-friendly Coors Field. He also can’t play defense anymore (not that he really could have in his prime years), logging -3 DRS and -1.5 UZR/150 over the season. Put it all in a blender, and you get a corner outfielder coming off a -0.2 fWAR season over 136 games making $8 million.
It’s somewhat mind-blowing. 165 players hit at least 15 homers last year. Gonzalez wasn’t one of them. 70 of 144 qualified players got on base at a .340 or better clip. Gonzalez wasn’t one of them. 132 of those 144 qualified players also managed to avoid contributing a negative fWAR to their team in 2017…and yes, Gonzalez wasn’t one of them.
Yes, it’s true Gonzalez was substantially better in both 2015 and 2016, cranking 65 homers combined over the two seasons with an OPS north of .850. But that doesn’t take into account that he’s 32, isn’t getting any younger, is coming off a bad season, and that several younger, better players have had to settle for less money this winter.
The Rockies have had a bizarre offseason. They upgraded behind the plate by bringing Chris Iannetta back into the fold, and essentially replaced closer Greg Holland with Wade Davis. But after a shocking Wild Card berth in 2017, you would think Colorado might have done more to strengthen their team, but instead, they’re largely going with the same team from a year ago and hoping that team improves. That’s fine, but their small window could quickly slam shut with Charlie Blackmon scheduled to hit free agency after 2018 and Nolan Arenado following after 2019. They’re the two most important players on this team, and putting so much faith in Carlos Gonzalez in 2018 could end up backfiring if Colorado doesn’t challenge for a playoff spot.