Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is not expected to make the Opening Day roster of the Mariners, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Following up on that, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets that Gonzalez has an April 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with Seattle. He can also request his release on the first of the month each month up through August if not on the MLB roster.
The 34-year-old Gonzalez has produced middling numbers this spring, with a slash of .273/.360/.318 across 25 plate appearances. And though that’s an improvement over the .200/.289/.283 line he put up at the MLB level in 2019, it appears that won’t be enough to get him back into the big leagues. Divish spoke to some scouts who commented on his slow bat speed and struggles with velocity. Divish adds that Gonzalez wasn’t viewed as likely to make the club even at the time he signed his deal, calling it more of a “courtesy” audition for a veteran player.
The Mariners seem to have narrowed their outfield competition down to younger players that they want to get long looks at, with Jake Fraley being the favorite to play regularly in right field, alongside center fielder Mallex Smith and left fielder Kyle Lewis. Divish also notes that the utility/bench duties are likely going to other younger players, such as Tim Lopes and Patrick Wisdom. Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty were also seemingly getting more consideration than the veteran Gonzalez before befalling to injuries.
Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star, had a terrific run of success with Colorado from from 2009 to 2016, producing a wRC+ above 100 in each of those seasons except for the injury-shortened campaign of 2014. However, he hasn’t been able to get back above the 100 line since.
Gonzalez now seems likely to return to the open market, given the opt-out provisions in his deal and his apparently minimal chances of making the roster in Seattle. He could theoretically decide to stay with the Mariners organization in order to get some playing time down on the farm and further showcase himself for other clubs. But given the organization’s preference to use the 2020 season to look at young talent, Gonzalez may lean toward trying to find a better path back to the show.