After a disappointing year in 2017, Adrian Gonzalez will enter his final year of his hefty contract with the Dodgers. It’s unclear how Gonzo will fit into the 2018 lineup.
Adrian Gonzalez has always been a fan favorite at Dodger stadium. Since the team landed him in a blockbuster trade in 2012, Chavez Ravine has been crawling with his jersey, and with good reason too. Gonzalez showed up that year and hit .297 with a couple of home runs, but the Dodgers missed the postseason. Adrian would go on to do more of the same over the next couple of years in Dodger blue. He hit a combined .282 and launched 95 long balls from 2013-2016.
But this past season, things went very different for Gonzalez. Knowing that Cody Bellinger was waiting to take over his job had to be tough on him, and it showed. Gonzalez went on the DL for the first time in his career.
After an injury forced him out of his everyday role, Bellinger started crushing the ball. So Gonzo decided to take his first trip to the disabled list to help the team and himself. At the Season’s end, Gonzalez was held out of the playoff roster, bringing his dismal season to a close. Gonzalez finished up batting .242 with 3 home runs in 71 games.
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At that point, many felt that Gonzalez’s time contributing to the Dodgers’ was essentially over. That was until today, when Andrew Friedman announced at a press conference that he expected Adrian to be a full-time player in 2017. This comes as a bit of a surprise, but it also makes sense considering how much they would have to pay him to take a season off. Gonzalez made $22.857 million last year, and is expected to take in another hefty $22.357 million in 2018. Sort of a lopsided number for a guy you’re sending home.
So if he almost has to be there, where does he fit in? The projected lineup will probably change from now until the first game of 2018, but it’s hard to imagine moving Bellinger away from first base. If they plan on using Gonzo in an every day role, that would almost certainly have to be the case. So perhaps they move Bellinger back to the outfield, a position which he played fairly well in the early part of 2017.
If Andrew Toles is able to bounce back from his knee injury, the outfield will consist of Toles, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger(As a side-note, none of those guys have eclipsed 100 games as a starter in the outfield). That seems to be the only logical lineup for Gonzalez being back in an every day role, but that also would push Puig out of the lineup. So ideally, they would probably have to move Chris Taylor back to the infield. This might be useful, as the team announced earlier that they had hoped Corey Seager can avoid elbow surgery.
The final option might just be to flat out trade one of their outfielders, as there seems to be quite the glut of talent. The list of potential outfield candidates for 2018 is lengthy to say the least. It consists of Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo.
No matter what way you look at it, the Dodgers just have way too much outfield talent to go around. This might be the ideal situation for them though, especially as they look for another power right handed bat. Look for the Dodgers to trade away at least two of these guys in the off-season.