Now that Adrian Gonzalez has been traded, it is time to see what life will be without El Titan and what this means for the Dodgers going forward.
The Dodgers traded away first base slugger Adrian Gonzalez along with Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and utility man Charlie Culberson last week to the Atlanta Braves for former Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp.
The Dodgers front office had been looking to move Gonzalez, but this was a move that shocked the baseball world and came out of nowhere. What surprised everyone was the amount of salary the Dodgers were able to dump in this trade.
This trade got the Dodgers under payroll luxury tax next season which will save them money this upcoming season and put the team in a good position for the stacked 2018 free agent class.
Gonzalez had been a staple in the middle of the Dodgers order since he was acquired back in 2012 in another blockbuster trade with the Red Sox’s along with OF Carl Crawford and SP Josh Beckett. That trade was one of the biggest in baseball history and broke a record for most salary being acquired in one transaction.
The Dodgers wanted Gonzalez so bad that they even took on the contracts of Beckett and Crawford. The Crawford contract was especially a tough one to swallow since Crawford was out at the time with Tommy John surgery and still had 6 years left on his 7-year $142 million deal.
In the end, though Gonzalez made it all worth it for the Dodgers. In his first four seasons with the team he was durable and one of the most consistent run producers in baseball. He averaged 24 home runs and 99 RBI in that span until injuries ruined his 2017 campaign.
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Gonzalez who is of Mexican descent and spent his early years living in Tijuana was an immediate fan favorite due to the Dodgers large Latino fan base. The fans of Los Angeles immediately got behind El Titan, and his professional personality made him easy to root for.
Now that Agon is gone it is time to look at what life will be without him and what that means for the Dodgers roster. The good news is that the Dodgers don’t have to scramble around to find a replacement because of rookie star Cody Bellinger. It’s sad to see El Titan go, but Bellinger makes things a lot easier.
However, one thing Bellinger can’t replace right away is Gonzalez’s leadership in the clubhouse. If Clayton Kershaw was the leader of the pitching staff, then Agon was the leader amongst position players of the last several years.
That role will probably now go to Justin Turner since he has really become the heart and soul of the Dodgers lineup. What the Gonzalez trade really does is open up a starting spot in left field.
Now that Bellinger will take full control of first base an outfield spot now becomes available. The Dodgers have multiple options for this open place. Yasiel Puig is locked in as the everyday right fielder, while Chris Taylor will probably be the starting center fielder because of his breakout year last season.
The three players that are probably the top options for that left field spot are Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and newly acquired Matt Kemp. The Dodgers could platoon them since there is a mixture of lefties and righties, but it doesn’t make much sense not to have commodity within the lineup.
These players bring entirely different things to the table. Toles is more of a contact hitter with great speed while providing some solid pop. Pederson is a low contact, a high power hitter that can draw walks.
Kike Hernandez can play all over the field, but he only starts against lefties. Top prospect Alex Verdugo is also an option, but probably still a year away from being an everyday player in the majors.
If the Dodgers can’t find a suitor for Matt Kemp, maybe they decide to give him a chance in left. Kemp is no longer the player he was from his first stint wearing the blue, but he still has something left in his bat. The only thing about Kemp though is that he was one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball last season. Trades are also always an option for the Dodgers as well as free agency.
The A-Gon trade for the Dodgers now puts the team in position to make a run for Nationals’ superstar Bryce Harper next year. It might be hard to get over A-Gon now, but if his trade leads us to the signing of Harper than we can’t complain about that. Life without Gonzalez will be tough initially, but it was time to move on, and the Dodgers will be in a better spot going forward.