Posted on June 3, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The end may be near but it’s not quite here for veteran Carlos Gonzalez. On Monday, the Chicago Cubs summoned Gonzalez back to the big leagues. The move comes just two days after the Cubbies signed CarGo to a minor league deal. The 33-year-old Gonzalez will now have a chance to prove his worth in the majors for a team in need of a little outfield depth.
It took Gonzalez until the middle of March to find a job this year. He ultimately settled for a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians. After a brief stint in triple-A, the Indians called up Gonzalez in mid-April, hopeful that he could help spark their offense. Cleveland gave him 30 games but was largely unimpressed. They parted ways with Gonzalez after he hit .210 with an OPS of just .558.
Obviously, it didn’t work out for Gonzalez with the struggling Indians. But he showed enough during his time in Cleveland for the Cubs to give him a chance. His best days are clearly behind him. But Gonzalez was an all-star as recently as 2016 and posted solid numbers for the Rockies last year, hitting .276 with an OPS of .796. Those numbers are enough to make the Cubs think he might have something left in the tank.
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“I’m eager to hear how he’s doing as he reports,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said when the team signed Gonzalez to a minor league deal over the weekend. “His entire career’s pretty good. Obviously, [he’ll fit] in a corner in the outfield, another left-hander. It gives us another left-hander to utilize against a good right-handed pitcher.”
As mentioned, the Cubs are in need of some outfield depth. Right now, Ben Zobrist remains on the restricted list while he’s going through a divorce. The Cubs are also hoping to keep Ian Happ in triple-A. Happ didn’t make the opening day roster after a poor spring training. He’s also hitting just .228 at triple-A, so the Cubs are in no rush to bring him back to the majors, even if they need help in the outfield.
“The situation with Ian, you really want to make sure that you feel good about that,” Maddon said of Happ. “You don’t want to just [call him back up] because you think you have to do something like that. It’s about a young player still learning his craft and getting better at what he’s doing, so you don’t want to pull the plug on — it’s not an experiment — it’s a developmental situation.”
Of course, Zobrist’s situation and Chicago’s reluctance to force Happ back to the majors has opened the door for Gonzalez. Right now, he would appear to be the team’s fourth outfielder, providing depth for Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber at the corner spots. Other than forcing infielders Kris Bryant or Daniel Descalso to play the outfield, Gonzalez is Chicago’s only reserve outfielder at the moment.
Obviously, Gonzalez is the not the caliber of player he used to be. But going to the Cubs could work out for him. The Indians needed him to produce right away and provide a spark for a struggling offense. But the Cubs are only asking him to be a complementary player. While he’s been an everyday player throughout his career, being a part-time player could be a role that fits CarGo right now. If he can find a way to help the Cubs in a supporting role, Gonzalez could end up being a meaningful pickup.