We all know that there are questions surrounding the outfield for the Cleveland Indians, so it makes sense that they are the team to finally roll the dice on Carlos Gonzalez. Signed to a minor league contract (with an opt-out in April), is it really unthinkable that he takes on a significant role? Just look at the names currently in the mix for playing time:
- Tyler Naquin
- Leonys Martin
- Jordan Luplow
- Greg Allen
- Jake Bauers
It’s possible Bauers mans first base, eliminating him from the outfield mix, but the presence of a similar reclamation project (Hanley Ramirez) could alter those plans. Even if Bauers is a “trustworthy” option, are there two names there that you would be willing to depend on?
Enter Gonzalez, who obviously is a shell of his former self. In 504 PA last year he did hit .276, though he struggled with his power for the second straight season (14 HR in ’17, 16 in ’18). That obviously is the biggest red flag, especially since you are going to be taking his bat out of the friendly confines of Coors Field.
That alone is going to be an issue, but will he even be able to maintain his average? He’s never been one to display a strong approach, and last season was no different:
- SwStr% – 13.7%
- O-Swing% – 35.3%
It makes you wonder if he’ll be able to maintain a 22.4% strikeout rate or a 35.1% Hard%. Neither of those marks are unreasonable, especially compared to his career numbers (22.1% and 34.9%, respectively), but we have to remember that he’s now 33-years old and lacks the power to overcome the issues. Can we truly expect him to maintain a .332 BABIP? What about the 25.3% strikeout rate in September?
The opportunity is the true key here, and it’s not impossible that Gonzalez has some strong stretches if given the chance. Is he going to be a true difference maker? Absolutely not, but as a short-term play? There’s some potential value. In deeper formats he’s worth stashing to see if you can catch lightning in a bottle (and in shallower formats be sure to monitor him off the waiver wire).
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Too shallow
- 12 Team League – Monitor off the wire
- 14+ Team League – Worth stashing
- AL-Only League – Worth stashing
- Keeper/Dynasty – Follow league size guidelines
Sources – Fangraphs