Nick Piecoro's article today for the Arizona Republic implied that the Diamondbacks would have a tough decision to make on Luis Gonzalez's 2007 option. Now, as a reporter covering the D-Backs, Piecoro has to use a certain amount of tact when discussing Gonzo's situation. I like Gonzalez as much as the next guy, but there's no chance Josh Byrnes exercises his $10MM option.
Gonzalez is 38 and is said to have his "elbow and shoulder injuries behind him." He comes out of baseball's home run era with a 57 HR season under his belt, though he's never topped 31 in any other season. He's spent seven seasons in Arizona, hitting .302/.396/.542 over that span. The most similar player over those seven years is definitely Jeff Bagwell, who hit .288/.404/.542 for Houston.
It's been a hell of a late peak for Gonzalez, and he hopes to find a new home to amass 786 more hits. Unfortunately, PECOTA projects him to be out of baseball by 2008, following a similar career path to his top comparable, Fred Lynn. Would 3,000 hits and 400 HR do the trick for the Hall of Fame considering how lackluster his career was before he joined Arizona? And that he's never really been considered a dominant player?
Even at his age, Gonzo was the 9th best left fielder in the game last year according to WARP. He had a leg up on guys like Carl Crawford and Carlos Lee. He'll probably shoot for a contract similar to Moises Alou's, something like two years at $15MM. Which teams would be a good fit?
Blue Jays - When Reed Johnson tops your depth chart, you need a left fielder. Though I am a Catalanotto fan.
Twins - An outfield of Hunter, Kubel, and Gonzalez would be formidable. Shannon Stewart's contract expires after this season. Lew Ford is best served as a 4th OF, and Rondell White should be DHing full-time. Not that I see the Twins doing this or anything.
Braves - I keep bringing up the Braves as candidates to acquire a left fielder, and Braves fans keep telling me they're happy with Langerhans and Johnson. Maybe I should start listening to them.
Marlins - I think playing Florida native and good guy Gonzalez in left instead of Chris Aguila or Reggie Abercrombie would be a nice gesture considering this offseason. Then again, I support the notion of getting Josh Willingham some ABs out there to keep him in the lineup.
Cardinals - Is this Bigbie/Taguchi/Rodriguez thing really going to work? Maybe, but Gonzo would be a good fit in that clubhouse.
And that pretty well sums up his market as I see it. It's a buyer's market for left fielders, and it should be interesting to see what Byrnes can come up with this summer. Carlos Quentin is begging for a big league job after hitting .301/.422/.520 in Triple A last year.
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