The Astros have brought infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez back to the organization on a minor league contract, per a club announcement. He’ll head to the team’s Spring Training complex to work out for now. The Red Sox released Gonzalez earlier this month, and he hasn’t played in a game since Aug. 12, so he’ll get some work in there and perhaps be assigned to a minor league affiliate before being considered for the MLB roster.
Gonzalez, 32, spent the first seven seasons of his career in Houston, never really settling into one spot on the diamond but bouncing all around the field as a versatile utility option. After struggling at the plate through his first two seasons at the MLB level, Gonzalez settled in as a roughly average hitter from 2014-16 before a massive season at the plate in 2017, when he hit .303/.377/.530 with career-bests in home runs (23), doubles (34) and walk rate (9.6 percent).
In four seasons since that time, however, Gonzalez has turned in a pedestrian .240/.310/.376 output, and his struggles have been particularly evident over the past two seasons. Dating back to 2020 — the second season of a two-year, $21MM contract he signed in Minnesota — Gonzalez has combined for a dismal .206/.284/.300 batting line. This season’s 25.8 percent strikeout rate through 271 plate appearances is the highest of his career by about three percent.
There’s little harm in the Astros taking a look at a player they know well — particularly one who can bounce around the diamond and fill a versatile bench role in September when rosters expand from 26 to 28 players. Gonzalez hasn’t shown much at the plate recently, but if he’s able to return to the even average levels of offense he’s provided outside of that 2017 campaign, he’d be a nice addition both for the month of September and for the playoffs. The mere fact that he’s in the Astros’ organization prior to Sept. 1 makes him eligible for the postseason roster — even if he’s not selected to the Majors until sometime next month.