The Dodgers will enter spring training with a problem looming over their roster. Will Adrian Gonzalez be healthy enough to produce or is he finished?
There is no doubt that 2017 was the worst season of Adrian Gonzalez’s career. The veteran hit .242 with only three home runs in an injury-plagued season. Adrian only played in 71 games as he missed massive amounts of time due to a herniated disk in his back. While this is something that could improve, it’s certainly not going to get any better as Adrian turns 36 next season.
Not only is there a question of whether Gonzalez will be healthy and productive next season, but there is also a question of where he fits on the Dodger roster. Cody Bellinger broke out this year, and as he settled into the starting first base role, his defense was spectacular. While the Dodgers could move Bellinger to the outfield, there is still a question as to if Gonzalez can handle playing every day.
There is also the issue that the Dodgers outfield is already crowded with Bellinger as the first baseman. If Gonzalez played and the Dodgers moved Bellinger back to the outfield, then the Dodgers would not have any space on their roster for all of their outfielders. Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, and Kike Hernandez appear to be the primary candidates to take up playing time in left field next season.
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If Gonzalez can stay healthy but once again proves to be non-productive, then the Dodgers would likely release Gonzalez who is in the last year of his contract. It’s unclear if Adrian would accept a bench role where he would only start once or twice a week and be a pinch-hitter for the most part. There is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is a consummate professional, but any former star would hate to rot on the bench.
The Dodgers best option is to trade Adrian Gonzalez to an American League team. In the AL he can be a designated hitter and play first base occasionally. It’s highly unlikely that Adrian can handle being an everyday first baseman anymore so becoming a designated hitter could provide him with one last chance to play out the final year of his contract.
An obvious trade fit for the Dodgers and Adrian Gonzalez would be the Oakland Athletics. Billy Beane loves to sign veterans and then deal them later on in the season for additional prospects or young players. He did that with Yonder Alonso this season, and he could do it again next season if Adrian Gonzalez plays well enough to draw interest from a contending AL team. The A’s have a young lineup and an open spot at designated hitter so Gonzalez can help mentor their young hitters and give them a professional at-bat.
Gonzalez is owed about 22 million dollars so the Dodgers could save some money by dealing him away. One fit could be to trade Gonzalez along with sixteen million dollars to the Athletics for Santiago Casilla. Casilla makes six million dollars next season in the last year of his deal, and it could help offset the remaining portion of Gonzalez’s salary while providing the Dodgers with a veteran setup man who has been very effective throughout his big league career.
Casilla would give the Dodgers another good bullpen arm, and it would allow the Dodgers to move on from Adrian Gonzalez. The front office is trying to build a young team that will be good for a long time, so it is time for them to dump Adrian Gonzalez. He was a good Dodger for many years but his time as a Dodger is winding down.
With the breakout of Bellinger, there is simply no room for Adrian Gonzalez so the Dodgers should trade him to get something for him. Trading Gonzalez to the A’s would keep him in California and provide him with more playing time so it would work out for both the Dodgers and Adrian Gonzalez.