The Red Sox have never been afraid to spend money. For past the 4 seasons, the Sox have been in the top 5 in payroll and have been getting slammed by the luxury tax for the last three years. Dave Dombrowski came in with a reputation of being willing to spend every possible dollar, and he solidified that belief during his tenure as the Sox president of baseball Ops.
But even Davey D has a point where payroll needs to be reigned in. And, unfortunately, that time is upon us.
The Red Sox have been incredibly stingy with spending money so far this offseason, very stating publicly that the team wouldn’t meet Craig Kimbrel’s asking price, or even entertain it for that matter. They let World Series hero Joe Kelly leave for the west coast after being priced out by the Dodgers, and have let countless relievers, whom the team could certainly use, fall by the wayside. It’s a strange position to take while actively trying to get back to the fall classic. Although, when you factor in the group of players who will need new contracts after the 2019 campaign, it’s a smart, forward-thinking strategy.
But, I want the Red Sox to win it all again now. So, let’s put on our fantasy GM hats and help this team get even better for this upcoming year.
The Red Sox do not have a fourth outfielder set for this upcoming season. They have plenty of depth all around the infield, but the backup outfielder situation is JD Martinez, a true defensive wizard in the field, and then a whole bunch of nothing after him. Now, having a fourth outfielder isn’t necessarily required to be successful, as the team did pretty well without one last year, but having another reliable bat to come off the bench never hurts.
~Side note~ I know that the Sox signed Gorkys Hernandez to a minor league deal a few months back, but he doesn’t move the needle for me.
At this point in free agency, with the exception of Machado and Harper, who weren’t coming to Boston anyways, most of the notable players are no longer on the board. But, there is one, underappreciated veteran outfielder who would be a perfect “Moneyball” esque, diamond-in-the-rough move for Dombrowski to pull the trigger on and his name is Carlos Gonzalez.
Yes, the man called Cargo is still on the free agent market and hasn’t generated much buzz at all. In fact, I have read approximately zero rumors involving the former Rockies outfielder. Maybe it’s because of his age, as he just turned 33 in October, or maybe that he has declined pretty steeply since 2016. Either way, Cargo is flying way under the radar right now, and would be a excellent low risk, high reward type signing for the Bosox.
Now, people may balk at the idea of giving Gonzalez a contract, citing the ‘Coors Effect’ as a primary reason to avoid him. But, when you take a deeper look into Cargo’s numbers, the dip in production isn’t jaw dropping like you would expect.
Gonzalez hit a sturdy .276 this past season with 16 home runs and a .796 OPS, a solid offensive season. And while Cargo did only manage to hit .241 with 6 home runs and a .361 SLG, drastically lower than his numbers at the spacious and thin-aired Coors Field, he still has better stats than all three of the Red Sox catchers from 2018. Additionally, left handed hitters have historically thrived in Fenway, posting a batting average of .268 with a slugging percentage of .450 in 2010 and 2011.
But, the real reason I want Carlos Gonzalez in a Red Sox uniform in 2019 is for his ability to hit right handed pitching. Naturally, most hitters perform better when facing a pitcher who throws opposite of them. You can see the ball better, breaking balls break in toward you, ect. But with Cargo, the disparity is eye-catching; His batting average is nearly 30 points higher, his OPS is more than 100 points higher, and he hit 12 of his 16 home runs last year off of righties. This is a trend across his entire career. Cargo has always murdered right handers. You might be thinking to yourself, “But Owennnn, they would never sign him just to hit off of righties” in some whiny tone. But I would respond with an “Oh Contraire! That’s why Steve Pearce, Mitch Moreland, and Chris Young were brought in!”. Yes, the Red Sox have shown in recent history that they value Righty/Lefty splits very much. Steve Pearce wasn’t traded for to become an everyday first baseman, he was acquired to mash left handed pitching. Chris Young wasn’t signed so the Sox had a starting outfielder, he was brought in because he also destroys lefties. While Mitch Moreland is stud defensive first baseman, even he ended up taking at bats almost exclusively against right handers down the stretch last year. Cargo would just be another in the long line of pinch-hitter back ups who specialize against one particular type of pitcher.
The combination of playing in the lefty-friendly Fenway Park, and, hypothetically, getting a steady diet of right handed pitching, Cargo could be a legit monster in Boston. I’m not just being optimistic either, the numbers back it up. Hell, he has a .333 batting average at Fenway!! Sure, it’s only in 8 at bats, but it’s facts nonetheless.
In addition to being solid hitter when facing righties, Cargo, with his howitzer of an arm, would fit right in with Benintendi, JBJ, and Mookie. The amount of outfield assists between those four would be ridiculous.
I’m not saying go give him $15 million over 2 years or anything, but if you could talk him into a one year deal worth a touch under $5 million or so, why wouldn’t you do it?
Also, you might run into a few moments like this.
Electric. Sign him for that alone.
Cut him a check, Dave.
Photo by Chris Humphreys/ USA Today Sports