A healthy Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez has become the subject of a lot of trade rumors.
(Justin Edmonds, Getty Images)
‘Tis the season for speculation, and there is a lot of it going on right now regarding Rockies star right fielder Carlos Gonzalez.
The thinking around baseball is simple: With the cost of free-agent outfielders soaring sky high (Jayson Heyward, Chicago Cubs, eight years, $184 million), CarGo is seen as a relative bargain. He’s owed $37 million over the next two seasons and he’s the type of power hitter who could help a team turn the corner.
Teams with playoff aspirations — Royals, Cardinals, Giants, Orioles, Angels and perhaps even the Nationals — see Gonzalez as a possible piece of the puzzle. When CarGo struggled early last season with injuries, his trade value plummeted, but his resurgence in June through the end of the season made him a prime-time player again.
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich made it clear during last week’s winter meetings that he was fielding offers for outfielders Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon, as well as Gonzalez. Ideally, Colorado wants frontline starting pitching in return, but that’s a scarce resource. So the Rockies might also be interested in packages including mid-rotation big-league starters, top pitching prospects and some bullpen help.
With that scenario in place, let’s sort through some of the reports and rumors:
* Shortly after the Cardinals lost Heyward to the Cubs via free agency, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the nation’s best beat writers, linked CarGo to the Cardinals.
What would the Rockies want in return? Injuries have depleted St. Louis’ pitching staff, so it might be a tough sell to get St. Louis to part with prospects. The Cardinals do have lefty Marco Gonzales, who starred at Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins. As Thomas Harding at MLB.com notes, Marco’s father, Frank Gonzales, managed the Rockies’ Short-Season Class A club at Boise last year.
* Joel Sherman of the New York Post threw an interesting wrench into the works last week when he suggested that a team could use CarGo at first base. Sherman even talked to former Rockies GM and current MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd about the possibility.
Here is what O’Dowd told Sherman:
“I have seen him take grounders in batting practice and during infield. I know it is hard to project from that, but with his athleticism and how good his hands are, I really have no doubt that with repetition he would eventually be good there. Plus, in the big picture of his career, I think that is what would keep him healthiest.”
— Dan O’Dowd
* ESPN.com reported Friday that the Royals have talked to the Rockies about all three outfielders. Monday, ESPN recycled reports about CarGo possibly going to the Giants, Nationals or Cardinals.
In past years, Gonzalez’s contract was much more of an obstacle than it is now, and the Royals have numerous pitchers on the cusp of the Majors. The Giants also have talked to the Rockies about Gonzalez in the past and were reported to be interested during the winter meetings.
Regarding the Royals, the Rockies would obviously inquire about starting pitcher Miguel Almonte and perhaps shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi Jr.
* Five of the Nationals’ top-10 prospects are pitchers, according to Baseball America, so the Nats might be able to trade for CarGo without giving up big-league talent. The Rockies could demand that the Nats part with No. 1 pitching prospect Lucas Giolito (2.63 ERA in minors), but the club is more likely to part ways with the likes of A.J. Cole (3.54 ERA in minors) or Austin Voth (2.70 ERA in minors).
* One final thought, if the Rockies do engineer a trade for Gonzalez that involves prospects, it would signify that the Rockies are indeed pointing to being a contending team in 2017 or 2018. I think we all realize that Colorado will likely be a fourth- or fifth-place finisher in the NL West in 2016. In my opinion, Bridich and the rest of the Rockies’ front office realizes it too, even if they aren’t going to say it publicly.