Carlos Gonzalez says joining Indians was easy decision, team built to win

CarGo picked Cleveland over San Francisco for chance to win

James Rapien
March 19, 2019 - 11:39 pm
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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians officially announced the signing of Carlos Gonzalez on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old outfielder agreed to a minor-league deal with an opt-out clause on April 20. This gives Gonzalez time to acclimate to a new team and prove he’s deserving of a Major League roster spot.

The three-time All-Star was all smiles during his introductory press conference. He’s happy get a chance, especially from a team who expects to be playing in October.

“This was a team that not too long ago was playing in the World Series,” Gonzalez said. “As a baseball player, I think that’s everybody’s dream. You want to be on that stage. You want to be in a position to win a championship. This team is still in that category. If you look at the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen is built for winning. I’m just really glad to be part of this roster right now.

“It was an easy decision for me to decide to come here and compete for a spot.”

Gonzalez has a month to show he belongs. He spent 10 of his 11 seasons in Colorado. He also received an offer from San Francisco, but turned it down because he thought Cleveland had a better chance of contending.

“We have a month to let him work into shape and that’s good,” manager Terry Francona said. “When we were talking to him, I know that was my biggest concern – were we going to have enough time to get him to be Carlos Gonzalez?”

This is a win-win deal for the Indians and for “CarGo.” If he has anything left in the tank, then he could be extremely useful. The Indians would get a major boost if Gonzalez can turn back the clock and be 80 percent of the player he was in 2016, the last time he was a National League All-Star. 

The Rockies qualified for the postseason four times in the decade he spent with Colorado. Gonzalez played in nine playoff games and made it clear that winning a championship is what motivates him.

Gonzalez called it a “new beginning.” The three-time Gold Glove Award winner isn’t the defender he once was, but he’s still better than a lot of corner outfielders.

He finished with a .276 batting average last season, hitting 16 home runs and 64 RBI. He admitted he hasn’t faced a Major League pitcher since last season. How long will it take him to get acclimated and ready to play?  

“I think the only thing I’m missing is games,” Gonzalez said. “I feel healthy. I feel strong. I just want to have at-bats and show them what kind of player I am and what I can bring to the table.

“Normally it would take 25-30 at-bats when it comes to spring training games.”

The Indians took their time with Hanley Ramirez when he joined them earlier this spring. It makes you wonder why they waited so long to sign CarGo?

He was probably holding out hope that he would get a Major League deal. Outfielder Adam Jones was signed less than two weeks ago. If that was the case, it’s hard to blame Gonzalez. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on him. He needs to perform at a high-level and show the Indians he deserves to be in the big leagues.

Could you imagine how teams would view him if he wasn’t good enough to compete for playing time with Jordan Luplow, Greg Allen and Tyler Naquin? He needs to take advantage of this opportunity. Gonzalez laughed about the idea of playing center, but said he is comfortable playing in both left and right field.

The veteran has a great chance to prove he can still play at a high-level and be a significant contributor on a contender. It’s an opportunity he wasn’t sure would come.

“When I hit free agency, you get that text message, you get that call everyday – are you going to sign? It gets to a point that you don’t want to talk about baseball,” Gonzalez said. “You don’t want to answer the same question with the same answer – I don’t have a job. I don’t have an offer.”

Not only does Gonzalez have a job, but he has the chance to help the Indians win a fourth-straight division championship. A lot has to happen between now and October, but don’t be surprised if we look back on this signing and smile.

Gonzalez has something to prove and he's hoping to do it in Cleveland.