TODAY: Gonzalez has officially been released, as per Roster Roundup (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY: The Indians have designated veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment in order to open a spot on the active roster for catcher Eric Haase, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. Haase was already on the 40-man roster, but the club opted to cut ties with Gonzalez rather than place Roberto Perez on the 7-day concussion list. Perez apparently tested well enough following last night’s concussion that the team isn’t currently planning to place him on the IL (though he’ll quite likely still sit out the next couple of days at the least).
Gonzalez, 33, will see his time with Cleveland come to an end after 30 games and 117 ugly plate appearances that didn’t inspire much confidence. The three-time All-Star and former NL batting champ hit just .210/.282/.276 with a pair of homers, a double and 33 strikeouts in his short time with the Indians. That type of production wouldn’t cut it even if the Indians were a first-place club, but the fact that they’re sitting six and a half games back in the American League Central only further creates a sense of urgency to coax production out of what has been a dismal lineup.
Gonzalez is the second former superstar with whom the Indians have parted ways since Opening Day; Hanley Ramirez cracked the Opening Day roster as the team’s designated hitter but was cut loose after 16 games and 57 plate appearances worth of similarly disappointing numbers.
With Gonzalez now subtracted from the outfield mix, the Indians will free up additional at-bats for younger options. Oscar Mercado has shown well in his first handful of MLB games, and the Indians could take further looks at some combination of Tyler Naquin, Greg Allen, Jake Bauers and Jordan Luplow their corner outfield/DH rotation. The Athletic’s Zack Meisel tweets that former first-round pick and top prospect Bradley Zimmer, who is recovering from 2018 shoulder surgery, is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus sometime next week, so he’ll emerge as an option in the not-too-distant future as well.
Cleveland will have a week to either find a trade partner for Gonzalez or release him. An outright assignment is technically possible but seems unlikely; Gonzalez would have to accept the assignment despite knowing that there are younger options that the team wishes to evaluate at length before giving him another look. The most probable outcome is that Gonzalez will simply be released and look for a new opportunity to rebuild his stock following a change of scenery.