Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is headed to the 10-day DL with ongoing forearm tendinitis, the club has announced, with center fielder Joc Pederson being activated from his own stint. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported earlier that the move was very likely forthcoming.
Remarkably, this represents the first time he has required a DL stint in his 14 MLB seasons. Gonzalez, who’ll turn 35 in a few days, has played in no fewer than 156 games annually ever since he established himself as a regular back in 2006.
While it’s sad to see that outstanding run of durability come to something of an end, Gonzalez was not looking himself in the early stages of the season. The forearm problem, which limited him this spring, has very likely played a role in his .255/.327/.309 batting line through 105 plate appearances. Gonzalez is also suffering through some lower-back problems, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times adds on Twitter.
Manager Dave Roberts had hinted the DL stint was likely in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). He had stated previously that the team would need to sit down with the highly respected veteran before making a move. But now that it has been made, the path is cleared for exciting prospect Cody Bellinger to stay on the active roster after his impressive start.
“I had a conversation with Adrian yesterday on our off day,” Roberts said earlier today, “and I think that right now where we’re at, we’re leaning toward putting him on the disabled list. We haven’t made that decision officially but I think that’s where we’re going to go and give Cody a little runway to play some first base.”
While there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty in how things will play out the rest of the way, there is now clearly a path for Bellinger to stake a permanent claim to a roster position — if not the first base job. (He is also capable of playing all over the outfield.) Through 36 plate appearances, the hyped youngster has slashed .303/.361/.576 with two home runs. While his proclivity to go down on strikes was the biggest question about him as a player, Bellinger has only been retired by strikeout six times thus far — though certainly it’s a minuscule sample at this point.
If Bellinger can stick on the active roster the rest of the way, he’d set himself up to qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player, meaning he could reach eligibility in advance of the 2020 season. Though he’d add an extra year of arb earnings, with boosted salaries the rest of the way, Los Angeles would still control him through at least 2023.