SUNDAY: The Indians have selected Gonzalez’s contract, per a team announcement. In corresponding moves, they optioned right-hander Jefry Rodriguez to the minors and transferred righty Mike Clevinger to the 60-day injured list.
SATURDAY, 11:37AM: Gonzalez is expected to join the roster before the Indians’ Sunday afternoon game against the Royals, as per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
9:29AM: The Indians will select the contract of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez from Triple-A, according to reporter Jorge Urribarri (Twitter link). As per the terms of Gonzalez’s minor league deal, he’ll now earn a guaranteed $2MM for making the Major League roster, plus another $1MM is available in incentive bonuses. Cleveland’s 40-man roster is full, so at least one more move will need to be made to accommodate Gonzalez on the MLB roster.
With the promotion, Gonzalez won’t have to face a decision about an April 20 opt-out date in his minors contract, though it seemed pretty likely that he would be back in the big leagues relatively soon given the unsettled state of the Tribe’s outfield. The man they call “CarGo” also did his best to force the issue by posting a 1.004 OPS over 29 Triple-A plate appearances.
Gonzalez signed with Cleveland in mid-March, ending what had been a pretty quiet trip through free agency for the 33-year-old, as least in terms of known rumors. The veteran was forced to settle for a non-guaranteed pact in the wake of a season that saw him hit .276/.329/.467 with 16 homers in 504 plate appearances for the Rockies — respectable numbers on paper, if still below-average offensive production (96 wRC+, 98 OPS+) considering the Coors Field factor.
On a more positive note, Gonzalez was worth 1.7 fWAR after a sub replacement-level (-0.1 fWAR) season in 2017, and he also had his best year on the basepaths in years, as per a +3.6 grade in Fangraphs’ Base Running metric. Gonzalez also had something of a rebound defensively, with a +6.9 UZR/150 over 1004 1/3 innings as a right fielder in 2018 and a +2 Outs Above Average rating via StatCast, though the Defensive Runs Saved (-8) metric was much more negative about his glovework.
Cleveland entered the season with one of the shakier outfield situations in baseball, especially among contending teams. While Leonys Martin has been a bright spot in center field and Tyler Naquin has performed well as the regular right fielder, Jake Bauers, Jordan Luplow, and Greg Allen are all off to dreadful starts. Gonzalez figures to take the bulk of right field time from Naquin, though it leaves something of an imperfect fit since Gonzalez, Naquin, and Bauers (the top corner outfield options) are all left-handed hitters. This situation figures to lead to fewer at-bats for Hanley Ramirez in the DH role, as Ramirez may only see action whenever the Tribe faces left-handed pitching.