After some steam building towards signing him, the Colorado Rockies will indeed be bringing back Carlos Gonzalez.
As with a lot players this offseason, Carlos Gonzalez has lingered available on the free agent market into spring training. Multiple reports late this week pointed to the Colorado Rockies signing him, and according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports an expected one-year deal with Gonzalez is being finalized.
Gonzalez has spent most of his career with the Rockies, with averages of 27 home runs, 91 RBI and 22 stolen bases per season from 2010-2013 with two All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves and a .926 OPS over that span.
Injuries limited Gonzalez to 70 games in 2014, with the expected downturn in production (.238, 11 home runs, 38 RBI). He rebounded very nicely in 2015 with 40 home runs and 97 RBI, and followed that up with 25 home runs and 100 RBI in 2016. But his days of 20-20 seasons are clearly over, with just 10 stolen bases over the last four seasons.
A slow start in 2017 diminished Gonzalez’s final numbers (.262, 14 home runs, 57 RBI). But he finished strongly, with a .314/.390/.531 slash-line, eight home runs and 35 RBI after the All-Star break.
Gonzalez’s career-home road splits say a return to the Rockies is the best move for him. His home OPS (.977) is over 200 points higher than his road OPS (.735), with a .329/.391/.607 slash-line at Coors Field. Last season those splits were even more dramatic, with a .323/.403/.520 slash-line (.923 OPS) at home and a .203/.274/.332 (.606 OPS) on the road.
The Rockies outfield looks pretty crowded, with Charlie Blackmon entrenched in center and Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia already in the mix for the corner spots. But Parra is tentatively expected to be ready for Opening Day after surgery on his right hand, and Desmond could move to primarily playing first base.
Gonzalez has been Colorado’s primary right fielder over the last few years, and that’s the spot he’ll presumably step back into. But he’s being brought back at a low risk with the idea he can hammer right-handed pitching and hit 20-25 home runs this year, not for outfield defense that advanced metrics have never been high on.