We’re well into spring training now, and veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez remains a free agent. There have been several teams who have shown interest in the 33-year old, such as the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics. However, he still remains without a team.
There has been lots of speculation about baseball’s free agent system, considering Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remained unsigned until just a week ago. Gonzalez is a guy who brings a lot of big-league experience to any club with the ability to eat up innings.
Just like Harper and Machado, Gonzalez is said to have a relatively high asking price. He has a very good pedigree in the big leagues, but if he wants to pitch this year, he has to lower his price tag.
Gonzalez has been a very reliable starter over his entire 11-year major league career, owning a career 3.69 ERA. Last year he was traded from the Washington Nationals to the Milwaukee Brewers in the second half of the season and posted solid numbers in Milwaukee. He tossed 25.1 innings with a 2.13 ERA, helping the Brew Crew win the National League Central.
Gonzalez has pitched at least 150 innings in nine of his 11 big-league seasons while throwing over 200 innings in 2010, ’11, and ’17. He has also stayed healthy throughout the course of a 162-game season, which alone should make him a hot commodity on the open market. This is a guy who led the NL in wins in 2012 and was also an All-Star in 2011 and 2012.
He is a consistent lefty starter who can give you a solid outing every fifth day.
Back to Oakland?
Gonzalez made his big-league debut with the A’s back in 2008 and threw 200 innings in both 2010 and 2011 with Oakland. He was one of their top-of-the-rotation arms before they traded him to Washington in December of 2011, where he ended up spending the last six and a half seasons before being sent to Milwaukee last year.
Oakland has a decent rotation, with several young arms who are on the brink of the majors. Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada have a healthy amount of big-league service time and experience. Top prospect Jesus Luzardo could emerge out of spring as a rotation candidate, and if he does as such, having someone like Gonzalez to mentor the young lefty would be vital. Frankie Montas, another young arm, could either pitch in the rotation or out of the bullpen. The A’s have a lot of exciting young pitchers, and having another guy like Gonzalez, who has experience, would be beneficial. Between Fiers, Estrada, and Gonzalez, they would be in good hands.
Billy Beane is aware of what Gonzalez is capable of, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign him, if possible. At this point, Gonzalez can’t be expecting a big-money deal considering how opening day is less than a month away.
Any team would benefit from Gio
Obviously if an organization has five-to-six healthy starters, there isn’t any point in signing Gonzalez. But even at 33 he still has a good fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s with above average off-speed stuff.
Oakland would be a logical team to sign Gonzalez based on where they’re at with their pitching staff, but the Mets have been linked to him too. However, it looks like they would rather have Jason Vargas as their fifth starter. But if Vargas deals with injuries — which he has experienced often in the past — it would be great to have a solid arm like Gonzalez to replace him in a rotation filled with hard-throwing righties, such as Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler. The Mets rotation has dealt with a lot of injuries over the last couple seasons, so the southpaw wouldn’t be an awful signing because chances are someone in their rotation will get hurt again this year.
There is no doubt that Gonzalez will be signed in the near future, but it just remains to be seen with which team it’ll be. Oakland could definitely be a fit, or like I said, the Mets. The Chicago White Sox are a team who he could fit with too, considering they also have a lot of young arms whom he could mentor in Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, and Reynaldo Lopez.
It will be interesting to see where Gonzalez ends up.