Should the Colorado Rockies Extend Carlos Gonzalez?

Sep 29, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) before the start of the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) before the start of the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

For years there has been speculation surrounding the Colorado Rockies in regards to the sweet-swinging Carlos Gonzalez. Many believed that the Rockies would trade him but it seems that the Colorado front-office might have different ideas.

The Colorado Rockies have been obscured in mediocrity for years, not having a winning record since 2010 and making the playoffs last in 2009. One holdover from those Rockies teams is Carlos Gonzalez. He is a career .291/.347/.521 hitter with 201 home runs in 1,064 games. All but 85 of those games have come while representing the Colorado Rockies. He is a three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, and a three-time Gold Glove winner in right-field. This is probably why he was the target of so many trade rumors the past few seasons. He has an impressive resume with the talent to jump-start most offenses.

He struggled with health and production during the 2014 season, having his worst professional season. At the that time it seemed like he was finally going to hit his decline (even though he was only 28). In his nine years in MLB, the Venezuelan has never played a full season, thus making the “decline” assumption a valid one. Lack of production and inability to stay healthy are huge red flags.

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However, he rebuilt his value the past two seasons by hitting .285/.335/.521 with 65 home runs. He also made the All-Star team this past season so you would think that the Rockies would capitalize on his resurgence. They aren’t a team that is lacking with offense. Since Gonzalez’s first season with the team, Colorado has finished in the top 10 for runs scored (finished second in 2016). Runs will always be there for them, considering they play in the high altitude of Colorado, making their home stadium the most hitter friendly one in the league. Couple that with the plethora of hitters already on the Major League roster and in the farm system and they should be fine. They also signed Ian Desmond this offseason, so Gonzalez’s loss would be offset for the most part.

The Colorado Rockies are a team that’s desperate for pitching. They consistently finish near the bottom in terms of starters’ ERA. Gonzalez would have been the best route in attaining quality pitching, but it seems as if the Colorado Rockies franchise has different plans. Rather, they want to extend the 31 year-old who will be a free agent after the 2017 season.

To me it’s simple: that’s not the right decision. First, as mentioned earlier, they don’t struggle to score runs, and with the signing of Ian Desmond, Gonzalez becomes somewhat expandable. He would be the perfect trade bait for an offensively-starved team. Second, he is 31 and isn’t getting younger. This means his value won’t be any higher than it is at the moment and neither will his value.

Third, it is highly likely that he is a product of Coors Field. His home slash line of .323/.381/.602 are MVP-worthy but his road line of .258/.312/.438 are bench-worthy. This shows that there isn’t anything specifically special about him. If he only produces at a high level for half the season, is he really someone you want to build a team around? Even if he isn’t the centerpiece, do you want to give him big money? Combine this with his injury history and you have a player who isn’t as vital as advertised.

2015 and 2016 were the first two seasons where he has played in over 150 games. However, with his age, his health risks will only increase. The best plan of action should be to move him as soon as possible. They can either deepen an already impressive farm system with young pitching prospects or trade for quality starters.

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There is another plan that the Colorado Rockies may be implementing, although it is highly unlikely, and that is to increase his value by making him an asset with multiple years of team-control. Carlos Gonzalez with four years of team-control would be a more attractive piece than a one-year rental of Gonzalez. I understand that he is a longtime fan-favorite but ultimately this is a business. Thus, the Colorado Rockies should try trading him instead of keeping him.