It's Official: Gonzalez Returns to His Baseball Home
SCOTTSDALE – Carlos Gonzalez is back where he feels he belongs – with the Rockies.
They did offer him a three-year, $45 million extension last spring training which was declined.
But it’s a team that he wanted to be with all along. How much did he want to stay in Colorado? Enough that when the off-season market for free agents went sour instead of being resentful, Gonzalez came back to the Rockies on a one-year, $8 million contract that was officially approved by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association on Monday.
His desire to be with the team was evident during the weekend when he showed up and spent time in the Rockies clubhouse, awaiting the results of a physical and the official approval.
Gonzalez indicated he will meet with the media Tuesday morning.
Monday afternoon, though, Rockies manager Bud Black made it clear he’s glad to have the left-handed-hitting outfielder back in right field, and he focused on the way Gonzalez finished the season to help the Rockies claim a wild-card berth, rather than getting caught up in the overall season stats.
“The start he got off to put him in a place where he had to dig out of a big hole early,” Black said. “He got in deeper and deeper, but he stayed positive.”
There was a late season surge that was critical for the Rockies, who finished one game in front of the Brewers for the second NL wild-card berth. That was not lost on Black.
“What he did last six weeks of the season was more like the Cargo we’ve seen in the past,” Black said. “Where Cargo is now physically, mentally, coming off the September of last year and coming back to the Rockies, is in a good place. He thinks this is his team and for him to come back is a great thing.”
Even with Gonzalez’s struggles last year, Black said the concern other teams had in facing him was apparent in how other teams pitched him.
“He’s dangerous,” Black said. “The second half he took his walks. He ran deep counts. He’s a threat and the other side knows it. He is in a place in his career age wise and body wise he can do a lot of things to help us win. We saw game-saving plays last year on defense.”
With the season opener 11 days away, Black said he is confident Gonzalez can get the at-bats to be ready for the March 29 season-opener against the D-Backs at Chase Field.
“He has been working hard in Florida,” Black said. “We will try and catch him up to speed as soon as possible. I have seen guys in shorter time frames get ready for a season and never miss a beat. He will be fine.”
And while this does mean some of the younger players – like Raimel Tapia, David Dahl and Ryan McMahon – could wind up back in the minor leagues, Black sees a benefit to bring Gonzalez back.
“We just got another good player which is great,” he said. “I think it is a good thing when you have good players. We have guys who are battle tested. This is a move that helps us create depth.”
And it is a move the Rockies feel can help them take another step in the post-season in 2018.