In November of 2008, the Colorado Rockies sent their all-star left fielder Matt Holliday to the Oakland A’s.
In exchange, the Rox received emerging closer Huston Street, young starting pitcher Greg Smith, and a 22-year old outfielder named Carlos Gonzalez.
Smith was a non-factor, making only eight appearances with the Rockies in 2010. Street lasted three strong seasons as the closer in Denver, helping the Rockies reach the postseason in 2009–the last time they have appeared in the playoffs.
But the real prize in that trade turned out to be Gonzalez. Over the last eight seasons, ‘CarGo’ has been a 3x NL All-Star, a 3x Gold Glove Award winner, and has won three Silver Sluggers as well. He finished third in the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player award voting.
One of those All-Star seasons came just this past summer. Gonzalez hit for a .298/.350/.505 slash with 25 home runs, 42 doubles, 100 RBI, and 87 runs scored.
CARGO CONTRACT EXPIRING
Now as the Rockies contemplate their future, they may have to consider moving on from their star outfielder. Gonzalez turned 31 years old last month, and is entering the final year of his contract, for which he will be paid $20 million.
There has been some talk of a contract extension. GM Jeff Bridich was quoted earlier this month by Thomas Harding for MLB.com:
“Are we going to look to improve things in 2017 and add Major League players to our process for 2017? The answer is yes,” Bridich said per Harding. “I’m hopeful that doesn’t have to come at the expense of players like Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon.”
ROCKIES HAVE OUTFIELD DEPTH
But the Rockies do have other options, including a glut of left-handed hitting outfielders. Young David Dahl is ready to take over full-time in left field, Silver Slugger winner Blackmon will be back in center, and veteran Gerardo Parra returns as well.
The Rockies also have their top outfield prospect, Raimel Tapia nearly ready to take over in right field. Tapia will be 23 years old when spring training opens. He got his first taste of the big leagues over 22 games this past season.
Gonzalez has said that he still considers himself an outfielder for now. However, he would not be against moving to first base as the younger outfielders more fully develop.
The question the club is considering is whether to deal CarGo now, or try to sign him to a long-term extension. They could also just carry him into the season, making him an attractive July trade candidate.
“They want an extension, but there are a lot of things to be negotiated to get that done,” Gonzalez told Wilmer Reina. This came from a story in the Versión Final newspaper in Gonzalez’ hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela per a report by Patrick Saunders at The Denver Post.
The answer to the CarGo question is almost certainly going to come from the quality of any offers received from other clubs this winter.
Those conversations are likely already going on, and certainly will continue, if not come to a head, at next week’s Winter Meetings.