The Mariners are throwing it back to 2016, reportedly extending a minor league contract and spring training invitation to veteran outfielder Carlos González. The long-time Rockies OF provides a more accomplished face for Seattle to mix with their group of young talents.
The Seattle #Mariners have signed veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to a minor-league contract that will pay him $750,000 if he makes their big-league team. He'll be in their major-league spring training camp.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 11, 2020
The team has yet to confirm the move, nor have the beat writers, meaning all we have thus far is the word of Bob Nightengale, but hopefully another source will confirm sooner or later. Greg Johns of MLB.com has confirmed the move:
Have confirmed that Mariners have agreement in place with veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez on a Minor League deal with camp invite. He'll need to pass a physical.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) February 11, 2020
By and large, there’s no such thing as a bad minor league deal. González has struggled to maintain his offense as he’s aged, posting a .200/.289/.283 line in 166 PAs with Cleveland and the Cubs in 2019, good for a 51 wRC+. It was a disheartening fall for the now-34 year old, who has failed to post an average (100) wRC+ in any of the past three seasons, though in his final season with the Rockies of 2018, he was still a competent hitter, and spent much of his career as a good-to-great player with Colorado.
The issue was two-fold for the three-time All-Star last year: he struggled far more than ever to make contact, and when he did make contact it was poor, and ground-bound. There’s little reason to expect Cargo to match his Rocky Mountain highs, but even in 2017 and 2018 he was a far more contact-oriented hitter than his 31.3% K-rate in 2019. González struggled to stay healthy for much of his prime, which may have taken a toll at this point and rendered him particularly susceptible to aging out of his prime, but he’s had a balanced, lengthy, successful career that Seattle no doubt would be thrilled to see their young outfielders replicate.
Odds are González doesn’t make the big league club, but could at least start 2020 in Tacoma, similar to what he did in 2019 for Cleveland. He could hope to exceed Jayson Werth’s tenure with the Rainiers, while providing an example for the younger players. If he looks rejuvenated, and/or has adjusted well from last year, he’s got an outside shot at the bigs in Mitch Haniger’s absence, but that seems improbable where we stand right now. Still, Cargo is immediately the most nationally well-known player in uniform for Seattle, and adds a bit of intrigue if nothing else heading into spring.