The Rockies haven’t been in contact with Carlos Gonzalez about a contract extension, the outfielder told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Gonzalez noted that he is interested in exploring his options as a free agent following the 2017 season, though it’s worth noting that he told Saunders last week that he is still open to the idea of an extension to remain with the Rockies. Earlier this summer, Gonzalez denied asking for a trade and expressed excitement over the idea of remaining in Colorado to play alongside the young players who could lead the Rockies back into contention.
Almost all of the chatter about Gonzalez’s future in recent years has been centered around a possible trade, particularly after the Rockies dealt another high-priced cornerstone star in Troy Tulowitzki in 2015. Gonzalez’s original extension (the seven-year, $80MM pact that runs through 2017) with the team raised quite a few eyebrows at the time, though it would be even more of a surprise if he re-upped for another long-term deal with the Rockies. One would think the Rockies would have to show some significant progress on the field in 2017 to entice Gonzalez to stay, unless the team pays a premium to extend him this offseason and keep him from reaching the open market.
Overpaying to lock up a player with a significant injury history for his age-32 season and beyond may not be a great idea for a team with a limited budget like Colorado. Elsewhere in Saunders’ mailbag piece, however, he floats the idea of the Rockies re-signing Gonzalez and then using him as a first baseman (with occasional outfield work). The move would help keep Gonzalez healthy while also freeing up a crowded Colorado outfield situation that also includes Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra.
Gonzalez rebounded from several injury-plagued seasons to deliver healthy and very productive campaigns in both 2015 and 2016, and he looks to be one of the top hitters available in the 2017-18 free agent class. J.D. Martinez leads the market, though other available bats (Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and potentially Justin Upton if he opts out of his Tigers contract) carry some health question marks or lack Gonzalez’s strong track record. The market could shift if Jose Altuve, Ian Kinsler or Logan Forsythe become available, though all seem like no-brainers to have their club options exercised.