GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Carlos Gonzalez’s career is laden with personal achievements — a batting title, three All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves.
He has earned the respect of teammates and opponents and the unwavering devotion of Colorado fans, who have spent the past decade cheering the outfielder known simply as “CarGo.”
But something is missing and Gonzalez thinks he might find it in Cleveland. The free agent signed a minor league contract on Tuesday with the Indians, who might have a starting outfield spot for him.
“Looking at the roster and the past of this organization, this was an easy decision,” Gonzalez said. “This is a team that not too long ago was playing in a World Series. As a baseball player, I think it is everybody’s dream to be at that stage, to play for a championship. I want to be in the position to be in that category. This lineup, the rotation, this bullpen is built for winning.”
Gonzalez could help the Indians settle their outfield situation, which became muddled following the decision not to re-sign All-Star Michael Brantley and other offseason moves.
The 33-year-old Gonzalez spent 10 seasons with Colorado and was one of the team’s best players and emotional leader. He left the Rockies after 2017 before re-signing with Colorado last March to a one-year, $5 million contract.
If he makes Cleveland’s 40-man roster, Gonzalez will get a $2 million contract in the majors. He can earn $1 million more in bonuses.
“The way spring training was going this was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I told my agent I really wanted to be on that squad. I told him if you get the opportunity to get me on board, I’m ready to go. I’m glad the opportunity came.”
A .287 career hitter with 231 home runs, Gonzalez was streaky last season, when he batted .276 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs. Gonzalez hit 40 homers in 2015, and he might be able to help Cleveland offset the loss of slugger Edwin Encarnacion.
Gonzalez’s peak years may be behind him, but he can provide the Indians with quality at-bats, postseason experience and leadership.
He won the 2010 NL batting title (.336) and was an All-Star in 2012, 2013 and 2016. He has appeared in at least 200 games at all three outfield positions and has primarily played right field the last four seasons.
Gonzalez is thrilled to have a fresh start with a team capable of doing big things in 2019.
“As a baseball player you want to get things going,” he said. “Once the offseason comes and you hit free agency, you kind of want to know where you’re going to be next season, but free agency is obviously different than it was in the past. Last year it took me a long time to find a job. This year it took me a little longer. I made this decision. I can’t wait to get on the field with my teammates.”
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