Should Carlos Gonzalez Be Plan B if Padres Don’t Sign Hosmer?

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

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As of Thursday afternoon, the latest Eric Hosmer news has him weighing his options and possibly returning back to the Royals. Could Carlos Gonzlez be an alternative for the Padres in 2018? They have been linked to the left-handed outfielder.

The San Diego Padres continue to flirt with Eric Hosmer.

Reports have the team offering the first baseman upwards of $140 million for seven years of service time.

The validity of these reports has been debated and nobody but the two sides know exactly what has been offered, or if the Padres have indeed even made a formal offer. No matter what is happening, the Padres intent to get better soon is evident. They are infatuated with Hosmer and are willing to make a large investment for the future.

It remains to be seen if the Padres will be the winner of the Hosmer sweepstakes, but in recent days there has been discussions that the team could be possibly exploring other options. One of those options is possibly bringing in veteran right fielder, Carlos Gonzalez.

The former Rockie would help stabilize the lineup, but he is a right fielder and the Padres already have Hunter Renfroe on the roster.

Renfroe is a young, homegrown, controllable player with upside. The team also has many left field options presently as Franchy Cordero, Alex Dickerson, and Travis Jankowski figure to get playing time to some degree. Then there is Jose Pirela, who is penciled in to start in left and was the Padres’ best offensive player for a long stretch last season.

Carlos Gonzalez would be an interesting addition to the team. He could help the soften the blow from missing out on Hosmer and would be a short-term investment with high upside. There is much to like about a possible relationship with the Padres, but the fact the youth would lose playing time is a bit puzzling. I will say this: The 25-man roster we see now will probably not be the same that we see in early April. Preller has much to do.

The report below indicates an offer, but no details on money. The Padres can offer him plenty of playing time, but it would be hard to compete with the Astros and Giants in terms of a team that is built to win now.

The section below was written by Ben Salom of EVT, earlier this month.

Gonzalez, is coming off of a down year with the Colorado Rockies. He slashed .262/.339/.423 with 14 home runs in 534 plate appearances. By no means are those terrible numbers. He would have been a team leader with the Padres, but stacked up next to the rest of the Rockies’ 2017 lineup, he merely played a supporting role. His most recent contract with the Rockies was seven years for $80 million. Now that he’s older and his profile has dropped a bit, he may be able to be had for a much shorter, less expensive deal. Would it be worth it to the Padres? Is the timing right?

CarGo, could provide some much-needed left-handed power to the Padres’ lineup. This is something that the team will surely want to add at some point if they are hoping to contend in the near future. His career slash line is .288/.346/.511 with a 115 wRC+ in 4881 plate appearances. He has 215 career home runs. If he is able to return to form next season, he could be a serious weapon for the Padres. Especially if some of the team’s current right-handed power hitters, like Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe, are able to put it together and find some consistency in 2018. The bats would complement each other nicely from both sides of the plate.

The Padres’ outfield is not completely figured out yet. Manuel Margot is pretty much a lock in center and Renfroe currently seems to hold the keys to right, but left field is still somewhat of a question mark. Tentatively, Jose Pirela looks like the starting left fielder in 2018. He isn’t a natural outfielder though, and he has versatility around the diamond. His bat can remain in the lineup from somewhere else in the field. Gonzalez could slide into left, or Renfroe could, especially with his poor defensive play in 2017. The Padres may want to give Renfroe another shot in right, however, in order to best utilize his strong arm.

Credit: AP Photo

The team does have talented young outfielders like Alex Dickerson and Franchy Cordero, who also will be vying for playing time in 2018. This is probably the main factor working against any potential for the Padres to acquire Gonzalez. Both Dickerson and Cordero could figure to be part of the team’s long term plans and blocking their development may not be worth it, especially for a player who is 32.

At his age, will Gonzalez even still be productive when the team is finally competitive? It’s a risk for sure. The first step will be for him to return to form. There’s no guarantee of that. Especially if he isn’t playing half of his games at Coors Field anymore. He doesn’t do very well at Petco Park. He has slashed .232/.300/.350 with a 27.7 strikeout percentage in 260 plate appearances lifetime at Petco. That’s not pretty. Then he’ll have to keep it up for the next few years because the team really doesn’t project to be a winner until 2020-21. It seems like the cards are stacked pretty heavily against Gonzalez being a contributor on a contending Padres team.

The team could acquire Gonzalez and if he produces, well, flip him at the deadline. This is a familiar move for the Padres. The issue regarding this strategy, however, is that if the team signs CarGo out of free agency and then they promptly trade him away, they may hurt their case in trying to sign future free-agents. Let’s not forget that the 2018-19 free-agent class is gearing up to be legendary, with names like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hitting the market. This would not be a smart move since the Padres should be in a better position to sign bigger names at that point. What the Padres need to be doing right now is building a presentation to show players why they should want to play here and stay here.

A favorable outcome may be that Gonzalez hasn’t gotten the contract that he was hoping for by the end of the offseason. Maybe he would be willing to sign a one-year deal to rebuild his value. I’m thinking back to what happened when Ian Desmond signed with the Texas Rangers in 2016. If the Padres acquire him on a one-year deal and then trade him at the deadline, then there’s no hard feelings. The team gets some production and leadership moving towards a big offseason and then a nice haul of prospects at the deadline. A.J. Preller would Prell again.

I just mentioned Gonzalez’ leadership, and that’s a really big intangible. He’s a known clubhouse favorite and well-respected veteran. His would be a great presence to have around. Especially with the large amount of young Latino players that the Padres have on their roster. Even if he is only around for a season or less, he could bring leadership to a team that needs good leaders.

When it comes down to it, I’m just not sure that CarGo is the right fit for the Padres at this point. I don’t think the team should be signing a free-agent of his age to a long-term contract for at least another year or two. I don’t think it would be fair to him if the team signed him and then quickly traded him away. On a short-term deal, I would say absolutely. I will definitely say that Gonzalez makes more sense to me than a Hosmer signing. I really don’t like the idea of moving Myers back to the outfield because I think the team needs to show confidence in him that he can bounce back at first base. The Padres don’t really need to be spending money or resources on mediocre right-handed bats at this point. Next offseason will be the time to spend big money. Ultimately, I think the Padres’ current depth in the outfield makes a Gonzalez signing unlikely and probably unnecessary. It’s fun to think about though.

6 thoughts on “Should Carlos Gonzalez Be Plan B if Padres Don’t Sign Hosmer?

  1. We do not need Cargo. Please play Cordero, Dickerson, or Pirela and find out who can play. Keep Renfro playing, we don’t need another Rizzo type trade. Get Rizzo some reps at 1st to spell Meyers. Things are looking better than they have for along time in my opinion. Thanks for listening!

  2. There is a reason the Rockies didn’t give him a qualifying offer. They were afraid he might take it. Pass.

  3. Signing Cargo makes as much sense as trading for Headley. We have a glut of iffy/average OF’s, and 3B/2B types, AND, most of all, we need to move more than one of them. So why not get ANOTHER player to make things more difficult? We should also sign a few more OF’s and 3B’s!!!

  4. If we don’t get Hosmer (and at this point who the heck knows) I’d much rather go into the season with Cargo-Margot-Renfroe then to go in with Pirela (who I love but has never been anything more than a backup utility guy). We already have one question mark in the outfield unfortunately with Renfroe, Cargo could provide some mentoring and guidance to the young group.

  5. I know we need a left-handed power bat, but I’d rather have Hosmer. We already have a glut of OFers, though Hosmer would require Myers to move to left. Would Cargo move to LF? The only other good thing is that Cargo didn’t receive a qualifying offer, so we wouldn’t lose our 2nd round pick

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