González, 26, has only been a Yankee since early December, when they claimed him off waivers from the Guardians. The outfielder burst onto the scene with Cleveland in 2022, hitting 11 home runs in 382 plate appearances. His 3.9% walk rate was quite low but he hit .296/.327/.461 overall for a wRC+ of 125. He also became a fan favorite by using the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song as his walk-up music and also hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 15th inning of Game 2 of the Wild Card series, which broke a scoreless tie and clinched the series for the Guardians.
Unfortunately, 2023 was a disaster for González. His offense fell off precipitously and he spent most of his time on optionable assignment in Triple-A. In his 180 major league plate appearances, his walk rate fell even lower to 2.8% while his strikeouts increased, leading to a paltry line of .214/.239/.312. His work in Triple-A led to a nicer line of .287/.323/.496, but that still translated to a subpar wRC+ of 98.
Since he’s considered a poor defender and doesn’t steal a lot of bases, González really needs to hit to provide value. There’s clearly some power there but poor plate discipline as well. He has swung at 49.1% of pitches outside the strike zone in his career, the highest rate among MLB hitters with at least 550 plate appearances over the past two seasons. In 2,734 minor league plate appearances, he has walked in just 109 of them, a 4% rate.
He is still young and has a couple of option years remaining, so a club could keep him in Triple-A as a depth piece while seeing if his approach improves. The Yanks likely had such a plan in mind when they claimed him, but they have since changed their outfield significantly by trading for Juan Soto, Trent Grisham and Alex Verdugo. Those moves have seemingly pushed González down the depth chart and off the roster.
The Yanks will now have a week to trade González or pass him through waivers. If he were to go unclaimed, he could stick with the club as non-roster depth, but some other club around the league might take a shot on him.