It’s official: The Colorado Rockies and Carlos Gonzalez have agreed on a one-year deal to reunite for the 2018 season. This is a big signing for the Rockies, who have drawn a bit of criticism from fans for the lack of moves concerning position players this offseason. As a note, Jonathan Lucroy just signed with the Oakland A’s on a one-year deal as well while Mark Reynolds, as of this writing, has yet to find a home.
For the Rockies, the return of CarGo is a welcome sight (just ask Chris Iannetta) as they continue to work out who will flank Charlie Blackmon in the outfield. Gonzalez will join a crowded room of applicants, as already names such as Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra, Raimel Tapia, David Dahl and Mike Tauchman are vying for the two spots.
I would think if CarGo shows, in a limited spring, that he is fit, ready and still squaring the ball up like only CarGo can, that his exceptional arm and defense would give him an inside track to his familiar right field gig. After all, he did finish last season on fire, batting .325 with eight of his 14 home runs in August and September. It’s possible that he might get more days off against lefties, but as of now, I find it hard to imagine a guy like him on the bench.
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If that is the case, that would mean all of the other outfielders would be competing for the left field spot as well as bench positions on the opening day roster. Parra and Desmond would presumably have the leg up to grab the starting position, and could even alternate based on the handedness of the pitcher if neither of them separate themselves. Desmond also might get some or a lot of time at first base, depending on the continued development of Ryan McMahon.
That isn’t to say that one of the young guys won’t surprise us. Tauchman has had a very strong spring, hitting .316 through 17 spring training games with a homer, three doubles and three triples. He also brings a speed element with two stolen bags. Tapia has struggled a bit, hitting just .273, striking out 13 times in 44 at-bats and has been caught on three of his five attempted steals. Dahl, who understandably started the spring off extremely slow after missing all of the 2017 season with a rib injury, has recently come on as well, hitting a couple of home runs in the past week.
Whether left field is manned by a veteran like Desmond or Parra, or one of the young guns, the addition of Carlos Gonzalez in right should make Rockies fans everywhere feel good. Not only is he a fan favorite, but he is a player who has shown the ability to completely carry the Rockies for stretches of the season and he provides a gold-caliber glove in right field.
All of this considered, the reason I am most excited about this development is because I truly believe that CarGo is hungry to erase the memory of 2017. The one-year deal is essentially a tryout for him before re-entering free agency next offseason. I think he comes out in a similar groove that he ended 2017 in and provides a big lift for an already dangerous Rockies lineup.
Is it Opening Day yet?