The Major League Baseball All-Star break could not have come at a worse time for the Colorado Rockies. They have won five consecutive games and are only two back in the NL West. While players such as Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are preparing for July 17, others are unwinding and resting up for the second half. One player who needs to refocus is outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. With the trade deadline fast approaching, Rockies General Manager Jeff Bridich has some difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks. CarGo has been with the club since 2009 when he was traded by the Oakland A’s in exchange for Matt Holliday. His first five seasons with the Rockies were arguably his most productive. During that span, he won three Gold Gloves to go along with a Silver Slugger. Gonzalez has only managed to win one Silver Slugger since that period and hasn’t won a Gold Glove since 2013.
Despite his struggles, Carlos Gonzalez has become a leader for the Rockies in 2018. However, his inability to produce at the plate is a growing concern for manager Bud Black. Black appreciates CarGo’s work ethic and his ability to grind out at-bats. Unfortunately, he has become a liability that the Rockies cannot afford if they wish to play in October. At 32, CarGo’s best days are behind him and while he is still capable of making jaw-dropping defensive plays, they are few and far between. Balls that used to be routine outs now result in doubles and triples. Furthermore, his plate discipline has worsened over the past few seasons. He’s fifth on the Rockies in strikeouts with 63 through 76 games. While fifth may not sound high, take into consideration that the four players ahead of him have played in at least 90 games. The difference lies in players such as Charlie Blackmon being able to hit for average while CarGo has struggled to put the ball in play.
There are a few clubs that lack the outfield depth that a player like Gonzalez could provide. One such team is the Houston Astros. Currently, the Astros have an outstanding starting rotation led by Charlie Morton and Justin Verlander. However, the team is looking to bolster their outfield and Gonzalez would be a significant upgrade. Josh Reddick has played 59 games in right field so far this season and has posted a fielding percentage of 1.ooo. Unfortunately for Houston fans, Reddick has struggled at the plate as he has struck out 44 times. Despite his high figure of 63, CarGo has looked comfortable at the dish in recent weeks. The mechanics of CarGo’s swing results in a high strikeout rate, but his inability to make solid contact with a ball is concerning. If inserted into the Rockies’ lineup, Reddick would provide an automatic offensive boost and help propel Colorado to October.
Given the recent success that the Rockies have enjoyed, Carlos Gonzalez is their best trade chip to be dealt. Other names such as DJ LeMahieu or Adam Ottavino have been discussed as possible trade bait heading into the deadline. If Bridich believes in the upwards trajectory of the team, he will hold off on moving LeMahieu and Ottavino until 2019 or later. The trading of Carlos Gonzalez seems inevitable at this point and even though his name has circulated in trade talks for the last four seasons, talks in 2018 appear to carry the most weight behind them. The Rockies have only managed two postseason appearances with CarGo. In 2009, they fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 in the NLDS. CarGo then had to wait eight seasons to experience postseason play again. Unfortunately, his playoff dreams were short-lived as the Arizona Diamondbacks eliminated Colorado after only one game. The Rockies have a club this season that could very well find themselves in the playoff discussion come September. If CarGo is still on the team, he could be a valuable contributor to Colorado’s success in the postseason.
The Rockies are playing their best baseball of the season. Gonzalez has been an integral part of that success and has an opportunity to lead Colorado to a division crown. However, that window shrinks with every passing day. With the deadline two weeks away, Bridich needs to decide whether or not he envisions a future with Gonzalez in purple. One major red flag that could signal CarGo’s final days as a Rockie are his home and road split. At home, Gonzalez maintains a .329 batting average while on the road, it dips to .243. This is a concern and could be all Bridich needs to make a move. If he does not make a move, it will be up to CarGo to decide whether or not he believes wholeheartedly in the organization. If that is the case, Gonzalez will see his playing days end high in the Rocky Mountains. If not, he will become very familiar with space and Bayou Bend.