GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Many wondered why the Indians didn’t target veteran outfielder Adam Jones, who seemed to check a lot of the Indians’ boxes, when he was on the free-agent market. Now, there might be an answer.
The Indians officially agreed to a deal with outfielder Carlos González on a Minor League contract, with an invite to Major League Spring Training, on Tuesday. The 33-year-old right fielder will make $2 million if he makes Cleveland’s big league roster, plus $1 million in incentives.
There’s been no secret that the Indians lack depth in the outfield. Cleveland named Leonys Martin the starting center fielder at the beginning of camp, but it has yet to make decisions on a left or right fielder.
The biggest question that remains now is whether it’s too deep into Spring Training for Gonzalez to break camp with the Tribe. Even if it is, he gives the club another much-needed option to be able to call up shortly after the season gets underway.
The top corner-outfield candidates for the Indians this spring have been Greg Allen, Jordan Luplow, Tyler Naquin, Jake Bauers, Brandon Barnes and Trayce Thompson, all of whom are much less experienced that Gonzalez.
Gonzalez spent the last 10 seasons with Colorado and has slashed .287/.345/.506 in his 11-year career. In that time, he’s been selected to the All-Star Game three times, won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. In 2018, he hit .276 with 16 home runs, 64 RBIs and a 99 OPS+.
If he does make the Indians’ roster, the Tribe will have a number of options. Bauers still seems to be the front-runner in left field, leaving right likely to Naquin or Allen. However, the addition of Gonzalez could either push both of those two out of contention for a starting job (with Allen having a chance to fight for a spot in left) or another option would be to platoon Gonzalez and Allen in right. Through his first 11 spring games, Allen has slashed .429/.484/.643 with three doubles, one homer and two RBIs.
The Indians tried bringing in another Major League veteran on a Minor League deal this season by signing Matt Joyce at the start of camp, but the team informed him on Friday that he would not be making the Opening Day roster to give him enough time to check in with other clubs. Maybe Gonzalez will now be the answer Cleveland was looking for.