Marwin Gonzalez is heading to Japan, having agreed a deal to join the Orix Buffaloes, according to Yahoo Japan. The MVP Sports Group client will take home a $1.5MM salary, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
Gonzalez, 34 in March, spent the 2022 season as a utility option off the bench for the Yankees, slashing .185/.255/.321 with six home runs across 207 plate appearances. While the bat didn’t really show up, the veteran was generally a positive contributor on defense, appearing at every position bar catcher and center-field.
That’s generally been the case for Gonzalez over a 12-year big league career that saw him spend his first seven seasons in Houston, and then stints in Minnesota and Boston, before a return to Houston and a season in the Bronx this year. Outside of a .303/.377/.530 year in 2017, the switch-hitting Gonzalez has never been an elite hitter, and owns a career .252/.310/.399 line. He’s made up for that with his defensive strength and versatility though, and has compiled 11.1 fWAR over his career.
The production’s been in decline for a few years though, and since 2020 Gonzalez has hit just .198/.272/.313 with a steady increase in strikeouts. That’s been good for a wRC+ of just 63, or 37% below the league average. That period’s also seen Gonzalez bounce around the league a bit, suiting up for four different teams during that time. 2020 saw him play out the second year of a two-year, $21MM deal with the Twins, before he inked a one-year, $3MM pact with the Red Sox in 2021. Boston designated him for assignment late in the season, and he returned to Houston that year to serve as a bench piece down the stretch. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal last winter, but were impressed enough in spring training to add him to the big league roster on opening day, and he held his spot all season.
The Buffaloes are the defending NPB champions, having won the Japan Series 4-2 over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows this year, their second straight season playing in the Japan Series.