As Opening Day approaches, the Indians continue to try to find the answers to the question marks in their outfield.
One of those questions might now be answered. The Indians on Saturday night agreed to a minor-league deal with former All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez will make $2 million if he makes the Indians’ big-league club, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The Indians now have less than two weeks to see how Gonzalez’s swing looks, and just how well he performs outside the friendly confines of Coors Field.
Gonzalez, 33, is a three-time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies but has garnered severe splits during his career. He mashes right-handed pitching (.905 OPS against righties in his career and .828 last year) but has struggled against lefties (.732 and .719, respectively). At home, Gonzalez has been one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball with a career .974 OPS at Coors Field, but that drops to .728 in the other parks combined.
Since his All-Star 2016 season, Gonzalez hasn’t had the same pop and has largely been a liability defensively. He was worth -0.1 fWAR in 2017, but that did rebound a bit in his 1.7 fWAR 2018.
Gonzalez gives the Indians yet another left-handed hitter, but he also provides a veteran option on a low-risk deal. Greg Allen, Leonys Martin, Tyler Naquin, Jordan Luplow and potentially Jake Bauers and prospect Oscar Mercado are all vying for spots in the outfield.
Gonzalez and fellow nonroster invitee Hanley Ramirez are both potential options to act as the primary designated hitter, pushing Carlos Santana to first base and Bauers to left field.
Regardless of how each piece falls, all of these moves for the most part revolve around the Indians’ need to determine their corner outfield configuration ahead of Opening Day on March 28 in Minnesota.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.