The Rockies are “close” to reaching a deal to bring back free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). If finalized, the deal would be for a one year term, per the report.
The possibility of a reunion has existed to some extent all winter, but whispers have picked up steam of late. His former teammates have pined for a return for the long-time Colorado star and GM Jeff Bridich has suggested all along it was at least a possibility.
Of course, there have long been some practical reasons to think that Gonzalez’s time with the Rox would come to a close. Though the team did pursue an extension with him last winter, the current roster composition does not exactly scream out for a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder.
At present, the Colorado outfield already features at least two lefty-hitting options in Charlie Blackmon and Gerardo Parra. Two of the club’s most intriguing young outfielders, Raimel Tapia and David Dahl, also hit from the left side. While it has previously been suggested that Gonzalez could slide into first base, the Rockies have a talented left-handed-hitting youngster slated to see time there in Ryan McMahon.
Notably, Gonzalez has struggled particularly against left-handed pitching in recent seasons. He has not posted even league-average production against southpaws in a given campaign since back in 2013.
If the Rockies can figure out a way to spread the playing time in a sensible manner, there’s certainly still reason to hope that Gonzalez can produce at the plate. He limped to a .262/.339/.423 slash last year, with just 14 home runs in his 534 plate appearances. But he did carry a personal-best 10.5% walk rate and likely shouldn’t be counted out for at least a partial power recovery. Over the prior two seasons, he swatted 65 long balls and posted solidly above-average overall batting lines even after accounting for the boost from playing at Coors Field.