Per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the Cubs have signed former All-Star Carlos Gonzalez — yes, CarGo — to a minor league deal. The 33-year-old Gonzalez was recently released by the Indians after slashing .210/.282/.276 in 117 plate appearances, but he could provide a little outfield depth for a team that has used both Mark Zagunis and Jim Adduci in that role thus far.
This move may also signal that the Cubs are indeed proceeding as though Ben Zobrist will not return this season. Joe Maddon recently acknowledged that reality, but this is an obvious move to add a veteran bat in a corner outfield spot. It could also tell us what the Cubs feel about Ian Happ‘s ability to help the team in the immediate future.
Once one of the most feared sluggers in the league, the cumulative affect of age and myriad injuries over the course of his career have hampered Gonzalez. After hitting a career-high 40 homers in 2015, he followed up with 25 dingers in 2016 before the power went out completely. To wit, CarGo has racked up only 32 homers in his last 1,155 plate appearances.
The lefty batter benefited a great deal from playing his home games at Coors field, but his career .843 OPS with nine home runs in 100 career plate appearances at Wrigley isn’t bad. Of course, most of those numbers were compiled years ago when he was still playing at a high level.
At the very least, this is a low-risk option on a guy who might be able to provide a veteran presence down the stretch. And who knows, maybe he can empty the tank and tap into what remaining pop he’s got left. More to come on this as it develops.
Update: Per Jon Heyman, Gonzalez will report to Triple-A Iowa to await a call-up as a lefty bench bat.
Carlos Gonzalez agrees to minors deal with Cubs. Will report to triple a Des Moines tomorrow then likely get spot on Mlb team as lefty bat off bench. Jesse Rogers 1st
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 30, 2019
There’s merit to the idea of being a platoon bat, since CarGo has hit righties to the tune of .298/.364/.535 over the course of his career. Even though his numbers this season are well below that, his .240/.293/.333 slash against righties is much higher than his overall numbers. That includes 18 of his 22 hits and both homers, so there you go.