Marwin Gonzalez isn’t the biggest free agent the Yankees will pursue this winter, but he’s a perfect fit for the roster issues facing Aaron Boone.
Didi Gregorius’ injury puts the Yankees in a tough spot heading into free agency. They need to find a player capable of filling in at shortstop for a significant portion of the season. However, they don’t want to pay big money for a player who will become largely useless after Gregorius’ return. That’s what makes Marwin Gonzalez a perfect signing for Brian Cashman and company.
The Astros are still making a decision on whether or not they should extend their versatile star a qualifying offer. Even if they do, there’s little to no chance he’ll actually sign it. Gonzalez’s play has earned him a bigger contract in free agency.
At first glance, Gonzalez’s numbers from last season don’t look all that impressive. There are plenty of guys on the open market who are capable of slashing .247/.324/.409. There are not, however, many players on the market who can hit that well and play multiple infield positions adequately.
Signing Gonzalez would give the Yankees a clear band-aid to deploy at shortstop until Gregorius is ready to return. He could even start at second if the organization would prefer to let Torres move back to his original position. The differentiating factor for Gonzalez is that he can fill that void in the infield and continue to provide the team value moving forward.
Assuming Gregorius can return to full health, Gonzalez would then transition to be a super sub for Boone and the coaching staff. He can play anywhere in the infield. That means he’s also capable of filling in at first base in the event that Greg Bird and Luke Voit can’t get the job done there.
Gonzalez can also play adequate defense in left field. No one can be sure who the Yankees Opening Day starter will be in that spot, but if it’s Brett Gardner, the team will need a viable option to give him plenty of rest. Gonzalez is one of the only guys on the market who can provide cover in left and in the infield.
The key, of course, for Cashman will be for Gonzalez’s price to be right. The fact that he’s a Scott Boras client could make the negotiations more difficult. The super agent will want Gonzalez to be paid handsomely for his versatility. The Yankees can’t go overboard to reach his initial asking price.
Instead, look for New York to make Gonzalez an offer somewhere around $10 million per season. They shouldn’t go overboard in terms of years, but anything three years or less should represent excellent value.
Gonzalez isn’t the star signing Yankees fans are craving, but he’s a guy who can fill a ton of holes on their roster. That versatility should be enough to make him one of Cashman’s top targets over the next few weeks.