Left handed starting pitcher, Gio Gonzalez, can make an impact for a Major League team this season. The question, though, is where will he do this?
He elected to opt out of his contract with the New York Yankees on Saturday. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Yankees now have until Monday, April 22nd to either promote him from AAA or release him.
Source: Gio Gonzalez is indeed opting out of his contract with the Yankees. New York will have 48 hours to either add him to the roster or grant him his release. If he’s added, he’ll earn $3M base salary plus $300K per start.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) April 20, 2019
Analyzing the Fit in the Bronx
While an experienced veteran with Gonzalez’s resume appears to be a no brain add, there may not be a great fit with the Yankees right now. Despite the prolonged absence of Luis Severino, the Yankee starting staff is in a good place right now.
James Paxton and J.A. Happ had their share of struggles to start the season, but they have since appeared to right the ship with excellent performances of late. Additionally, Masahiro Tanaka has anchored the rotation with a great overall start to the season, and CC Sabathia has looked great since returning from the injured list.
That accounts for four of the five starting pitcher spots, and one can assume the original plan was for Gonzalez to fill the fifth spot if not for the emergence of Domingo German. German showed flashes of brilliance last season, but was inconsistent. He has been more than impressive so far this season with a 2.37 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Overall, the starting rotation has performed well, posting a solid 3.69 ERA in 100 innings. Four of the five aforementioned starters have ERAs under 4.00, and three under 3.30. The rotation also currently includes mostly veteran pitchers.
As a result, there just is not a need for Gonzalez on the Yankees right now, in spite of his veteran status and impressive resume (a career 3.69 ERA in 1,814 innings).
The Best Fit
It appears that Gonzalez has anticipated this situation to result in a release, as he recently switched agents, indicating that he’s preparing to re-enter the free agent market.
Agent news: Gio Gonzalez has left Scott Boras and is now represented by CAA, per sources. Gonzalez must be added to the Yankees’ roster by Saturday or he can request his release.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) April 19, 2019
If this happens, his best fit could be across town with the New York Mets. The Mets have been operating with an all-in mentality as they try to get back to the World Series with the core that they still have in place from 2015.
With this in mind, they could use an upgrade in their starting rotation with Jason Vargas pitching the way that he has been since joining the team last season. Vargas has pitched to the tune of a 6.16 ERA in just over 102 innings as a Met. If the team is looking to go all in, they will need to find a more viable option than Vargas for their rotation.
This notion is amplified by the fact that staff ace, Jacob deGrom had a scare with his elbow. Even though all appears to be well now, an elbow related injury is certainly something to worry about as the season moves on.
Gonzalez may be the best option available for the Mets right now. Other options include the still unsigned Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. Both players are still looking for a lot more money than Gonzalez, who would have made $3 million dollars with the Yankees, despite backing off on their astronomical initial requests.
Money aside, Gonzalez may be the better logistical option as well. Signing Kimbrel would entail moving either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to the rotation to replace Vargas, with Kimbrel pitching out of the bullpen.
The issue is that Kimbrel is adamant about closing games, and the Mets already have an established closer in Edwin Diaz. It may not be wise to bump the 25-year-old phenom even if it is just for one year.
As for Keuchel, Gonzalez has him beat in terms of experience, both overall and in the National League. Gonzalez pitched six and a half seasons with the Washington Nationals, giving him knowledge of the NL East, which Keuchel does not have.
Gonzalez also has the edge when considering that he has been facing batters in real game situations for several weeks now in AAA. While Keuchel has been keeping in shape, he can not lay claim to this. As a result, Gonzalez will be game ready much quicker than Keuchel.
Now consider the fact that Gonzalez can be signed for less money than either of these players, and it is clear that he will be the best option available for the Mets.
As Gonzalez appears to drift closer to re-entering the free agent market, it is clear that he can still help a team at the Major League level, and the team that could best benefit from his services, is the New York Mets.