The Brewers announced over the weekend that right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez has chosen to become a free agent, rather than accept an outright assignment to the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate. Gonzalez was designated for assignment last week and cleared waivers, and he had the ability to test the open market again because he has already been outrighted during his career.
The 30-year-old Gonzalez is now en route to pitching for his third different organization of 2022, after already seeing action with the Brewers and Twins in 18 1/3 combined innings. Minnesota signed Gonzalez to a minor league deal in March, and Gonzalez pitched in two games before being DFA’ed and then claimed off waivers by the Brewers a month ago. This brief tenure in Milwaukee consisted of four games for Gonzalez, two of them starts.
All told, the righty has a 6.87 ERA over his 18 1/3 IP, continuing a string of disappointing results over four consecutive seasons. Gonzalez didn’t pitch in 2017-18 due to Tommy John surgery, and since returning in 2019, the righty has a posted a 6.17 ERA over 202 2/3 innings. Home runs have been a persistent issue for Gonzalez, and that trend has continued in 2022 with five homers allowed in his brief sample size of work.
Gonzalez did have a 3.44 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with the Twins’ Triple-A club this year, also delivering a 23.2% strikeout rate that (while modest) represented a step up for a pitcher who doesn’t miss many bats. Gonzalez also had a 55.7% grounder rate at St. Paul, though while he has pretty consistently delivered excellent groundball numbers at the minor league level, the righty has only a career 42.4% grounder rate at the big league level — naturally, a setback for a homer-prone pitcher who doesn’t record many strikeouts.
It seems likely that Gonzalez will catch on somewhere, though his lack of minor league options makes him a candidate for further trips to the DFA wire down the road. A turn to full-time relief pitching could eventually be required for Gonzalez to try and find a consistent niche for himself on a Major League roster, yet with clubs always on the lookout for rotation depth, Gonzalez will probably get another opportunity to make starts.