The scene in the Cubs clubhouse Friday suggested a DFA was coming for Carlos Gonzalez, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter), who noted Gonzalez receiving handshakes and hugs from teammates. CarGo indeed was put on waivers earlier today, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The team has officially announced the move, along with a trio of corresponding roster moves: Cole Hamels goes on the 10-day injured list, while relievers Rowan Wick and Dillon Maples have been recalled from Triple-A.
The Cubs would like to send Gonzalez to the minors, per Heyman, though he would first have to go unclaimed, and second accept the assignment. If he does go unclaimed, the writing would be on the wall for Gonzalez, who then might be willing to accept a minor league assignment to stay in the Cubs organization.
The Gonzalez DFA was precipitated by the Hamels injury, which overtaxed the bullpen and pushed the Cubs to add a pair of arms before today’s game. Hamels left yesterday’s game after one inning with an oblique injury. Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan each pitched for more than one inning apiece, while Steve Cishek pitched for the second straight game. Maples and Wick rejoin the club today to serve as reinforcements.
CarGo managed a couple of nice moments during his short stint in Chicago, including a diving catch in the outfield in his first weekend, but a listless offensive performance ultimately made him expendable in Chicago, as he had been in Cleveland previous. In 15 games with the Cubs – half as much time as he spent with the Indians – Gonzalez hit only .175/306/.300 with three extra-base hits.
Gonzalez has maintained a good approach in his age-33 season with a 10.8 BB% that’s higher than his career average. Strikeouts have been more frequent (31.3 K%), but even more troubling has been his inability to get any lift. In 166 plate appearances for the Cubs and Indians, Gonzalez has mustered a mere .083 isolated power mark while hitting the ball on the ground 56.4 % of the time. Statcast puts Gonzalez’ launch angle for the year at just 1.7 – not a sustainable mark for a major league hitter.
Gonzalez has fit well in the Cubs clubhouse, and he was a fun attraction for a few weeks, but ultimately the Cubs cannot afford to be patient with the veteran slugger. While there are at-bats for the taking in the Cubs outfield, it’s not necessarily an area of need with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Jason Heyward, and Kris Bryant on hand. They’d certainly prefer a degree of greater offense from Almora in particular, but CarGo is not to be the answer.
Though they will use Gonzalez’ roster spot on a pitcher for the moment, the fourth outfielder role could eventually be returned to Mark Zagunis, who held the role early in the season, or Ian Happ, who continues to refine his approach in Triple-A.