The Colorado Rockies made one of the more curious moves of the winter the other day, signing outfielder Gerardo Parra to a three-year deal that gives them a surplus of starting-caliber outfielders. Chances are they’re looking to move one of them, and the most likely candidate to be dealt is Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has performed at an MVP-level when healthy, and even though Coors Field may inflate his numbers a bit he’s still a dangerous middle of the order bat who’d make any lineup better. So which teams would benefit the most from acquiring him? Here’s a look at five that should have the Rockies on speed dial:
New York Mets: The reigning National League champions continue to ignore Yoenis Cespedes, likely because they’d prefer signing someone to a shorter term than what their star outfielder might be seeking. Gonzalez would fit perfectly, then, with just two years and $37 million left on his contract. If he declines (or if his production really is tied to his home ballpark), the Mets would be able to walk away from him at relatively little financial cost; and if he performs well, he’d be a bargain at his current salary.
The Mets may have the prospects necessary to get a deal done with Colorado too, as they could offer a package centered around a pitcher like Zack Wheeler or Steven Matz. Adding Gonzalez would go a long way in getting the Mets back to the postseason.
Chicago White Sox: The Sox have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Gonzalez, and it would make sense given their reluctance to sign an outfielder for more than three years. They’re in win-now mode and have already added two dangerous hitters this winter in Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie; plus, they have a bunch of money ready to come off the books next year which would make Gonzalez’s salary more tolerable.
With the Royals seemingly weakened heading into spring (we said that last year too, though), Chicago may be tempted to load up on hitters to make their move in the AL Central. Adding Gonzalez to a lineup with Frazier, Lawrie, and Jose Abreu would give them one of the most dangerous group of hitters in the league.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards might make the most sense out of anyone on this list. They lost Jason Heyward to the Cubs, and in baseball’s most competitive division they can’t allow themselves to fall too far behind. They have in-house options but none come with the pedigree of Gonzalez, who would fit seamlessly into their lineup and might actually be an offensive upgrade over Heyward.
The Cardinals may look like they’re taking it slow in their pursuit of an outfielder, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they pounce on Gonzalez. He would give them the lineup boost they need without costing them the money or years that a Cespedes or Justin Upton would, and adding him would put them back on equal footing with the Cubs and Pirates.
Cleveland Indians: Count the Tribe as another AL Central team that may look to take advantage of a weakened Royals team and claim the division as their own. They’ll be without Michael Brantley until mid-summer, and adding a player like Gonzalez would go a long way in softening that blow. The Indians already have a formidable team, with a young pitching staff that rivals any in baseball.
Their lineup could use some help, though, and counting on some combination of Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall, or whoever else to replace Brantley probably isn’t going to cut it. Gonzalez would make a ton of sense as the Indians’ cleanup hitter and would make them one of the favorites in the American League.
San Francisco Giants: They just signed Denard Span, but for a team that spent like it expects to be in the playoffs this October it’s hard to believe the Giants are content with a fragile Angel Pagan as their every day left fielder. Gonzalez would represent a huge upgrade, and his remaining contract would fit with the Giants’ current M.O. in terms of length.
It may be harder to trade within the division, but the underrated Giants farm system may have the depth needed to pry him away. San Francisco already boasts one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball, and adding someone like Gonzalez might put them over the top.