Posted on February 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Marwin Gonzalez
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Rather quietly, the Minnesota Twins have had a productive offseason, at least for a small market team. On Friday, they put the finishing touches on that offseason by agreeing to terms with super-utility player Marwin Gonzalez. The Twins and Gonzalez have agreed to a two-year deal worth $21 million.

The 29-year old Gonzalez was a fascinating case study on the free agent market this winter. He’s the definition of versatile, playing every position except pitcher and catcher for the Astros last season. With teams starting to place more value on players who are capable of contributing at multiple positions, a player like Gonzalez was expected to receive a lot of interest. However, a slow and tepid market affected the Venezuela native. While two years and $21 million is a good deal, it’s not quite the lucrative contract some were predicting heading into the offseason.

In addition to his defensive versatility, Gonzalez has started to come around offensively after some modest numbers early in his career. In 2017, Gonzalez hit .303 with an OPS .907, helping along by a career-high 23 home runs. He became a vital part of Houston’s World Series win that season. He followed it up in 2018 by hitting .247 with an OPS of .733. Even if he never replicates his offensive output from 2017, Gonzalez is still a switch-hitter who provides steady productivity.

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The only caveat with Gonzalez is that he’s never reached 500 at-bats in a single season. He’s technically not an everyday player, which may be why his contract was not what some anticipated for him. However, he’s a potential fill-in at nearly every position in case of a long-term injury. Gonzalez is also comfortable playing a different position every day, which makes it easy for managers to give regular rest to other players. Therein lies the value Gonzalez will bring to the Twins, not to mention the veteran presence he brings to a young team that’s still learning to win.

“He’s a unique player because I can put him anywhere,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Gonzalez last fall. “At any given point on any team, this guy can literally play six positions every day. … He’s the answer to everything. We have a problem, we insert Marwin, and no matter what, he steps up in a huge way.”

At the moment, it remains to be seen where Gonzalez will get most of his at-bats with the Twins. He will surely serve as the team’s fourth outfielder and be the primary backup at all three spots. Gonzalez will also provide some protection for Jonathan Schoop at second base and Miguel Sano at third base. The Twins are taking a chance on Schoop after a dreadful 2018 campaign. Gonzalez could become a regular at second base if Schoop can’t have a bounce-back year. The same could be true of Sano, who was terrible last season and has already been sidelined this spring by an injury he picked up playing winter ball.

In the end, Minnesota may be the perfect spot for Gonzalez. The Twins don’t have much depth, something Gonzalez provides at every position. There are also a couple of positions where Gonzalez could see regular playing time. The Twins also have a chance to surprise some people in the AL Central if things break well. Gonzalez will certainly move the needle for Minnesota, giving them a better chance to be in the mix for a playoff spot the second half of the season.

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