Cargo Could Fill Rockies Need

Carlos Gonzalez is caught in free agent limbo. And he’s not the least bit concerned. Gonzalez is a realist. He knows he is coming off the least productive season of the seven seasons in which he has played in 100 or more games. He understands there is a log jam created by a lack of activity in the signing of the top tier free agents.

Most of all he knows by the time spring camps open next month he will be in uniform, getting ready for Opening Day, possibly even returning to the Rockies, where he spent the last nine season.

Other teams that are still showing interest include The blue Jays, Orioles, Astros, D-Backs Royals.

“I have been enjoying it,” said Gonzalez. “It’s been slow, but I know I am going to have a job. My focus is on being ready when it is time to get back on the field.”

Jose Altuve

Gonzalez has been working out in the Orlando, Fla., area with a group of players, including fellow Venezuelan “my main man, (Jose) Altuve. I’m looking for pointers.”

Gonzalez is one of the more interesting of the unsigned free agents. At the age of 32, he has been an all-Star three times, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Silver Slugger honoree. He led the NL with a .336 average in 2010 when he finished third in NL MVP voting.

And he’s one of those guys who is always smiling, never looking for excuses, not even in what from an overall standpoint was a disappointing 2017 season, a big part in why the market has been slow for him. He hit .261 for the season. He did, however, have a strong finish and was a key factor in the Rockies claiming a wild-card berth, hitting .377 with a .484 on-base percentage and .766 slugging percent in September, when he had six home runs and 16 RBI.

It was a far cry from that .221 he hit with a .299 on-base percentage in the first half of the season.

And it was the final year of a seven-year $80 million contract he had signed with the Rockies when he going into his final year before being arbitration eligible, forfeiting his three years of arbitration and three years of potential free agency.

“I was going to make minimum salary as a third year player,” he said. “I was able to work a deal that was going to provide for my family. That was important for me, for my family, to be taken care of, I am from Venezuela. It’s a different situation than a lot of countries.”

Now he is on the open market, waiting for it to truly open up.

J.D. Martinez

“J.D. Martinez is still out there,” said Gonzalez, who along with Martinez is represented by agent Scott Boars. “Depending on the decision he makes it could open up things for me.”

It could prompt one of the teams with interest in him to make a multi-year deal, but reality is Gonzalez might be best served with a one-year deal and look to rebuild market value after last year. He felt that helped him in the final weeks of the season. He also made some adjustments in gripping the bat and swinging that were more along the lines of his past.

What he didn’t do was pout. He became a strength for the young Latin players on the Rockies roster, including rookie starting pitchers Antonio Senzatela and German Marquez, kept a smile on his face, and encouraged teammates at all times while also dealing well with the constant media inquiries about his on-field struggles.

He admits he enjoyed his time with the Rockies, and does not rule out the possibility of returning. Both sides have remained in contact. He feels comfortable about his relationship with the people in the clubhouse, from manager Bud Black on down, and also is at ease with general manager Jeff Bridich and owner Dick Monfort.

“I am thankful for every opportunity the Rockies gave me,” said Gonzalez, who originally signed with the D-Backs and made his big-league debut with the A’s. “The Rockies will always be special to me. I could still be with the Rockies.”

And the Rockies wouldn’t hesitate. They would like to add an impact bat to play the outfield.

Gonzalez not only would fit that void, but history shows he would fit very comfortably into clubhouse as well.

Tracy Ringolsby