After the Dodgers and Braves both got rid of him in a matter of days, the New York Mets have emerged as a suitor for Adrian Gonzalez.
The Los Angeles Dodgers swapped some bad contracts last weekend, with outfielder Matt Kemp going from Atlanta to Los Angeles and pitchers Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and infielder Charlie Culberson going the other way.
Gonzalez immediately became an obvious disposable part for the Braves, with Freddie Freeman entrenched at first base, and they designated him for assignment. The Braves are on the hook for his nearly $22.4 million salary for 2018, so the 35-year old can be had for a bare minimum salary. With that, a top suitor for Gonzalez has emerged.
James Wagner of the New York Times initially reported the New York Mets would at least consider Gonzalez. On Tuesday, upon his official release, the team’s interest went a step further.
For basically a decade, Gonzalez was one of the top run producers in baseball. From 2006-2016 he averaged 27 home runs and 102 RBI per season, with a .292/.364/.495 average slash-line while playing at least 156 games each year. But he made the first trip to the disabled list of his career last year, was not productive over the 71 games he did play (.642 OPS, three home runs) and was rendered even more useless for the Dodgers by the emergence of Cody Bellinger.
The Mets have a first baseman of the future, and quite possibly the present. But Dominic Smith didn’t fare well during his first taste of the big leagues, hitting .198 with 49 strikeouts and just 14 walks over 183 plate appearances last season. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was also not complementary when speaking of Smith’s chances to be the team’s 2018 Opening Day first baseman, before reversing course earlier this month.
“He didn’t win it in September, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Gonzalez hinted at retiring when his contract ends if his back injury doesn’t fully heal. That would be after the 2018 season, and he was not even with the Dodgers during their postseason run last season. Until proven otherwise, he’s clearly got one foot out the door on continuing his career.
So of course the Mets are considering signing Gonzalez, when there are no other teams interested, with an apparent willingness to take playing time away from a young player.