Mike Gonzalez just turned down an offer for a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, according to T.R. Sullivan. While this would allow him to participate in spring training with the Rangers, he wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot on the major league roster. For a reliever coming off a season in which he went 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, that might seem like a poor decision. However, when you look deeper into Gonzalez’s case, the better question might be why should he have to settle for a minor league deal?
The last few seasons have been poor to Gonzalez, as he posted a 4.01 ERA in 2010. He’s 34, and some would argue that his struggles are due to a decline. However, it’s not Gonzalez fault if he isn’t utilized properly, which seems to be the case over the past two seasons. In both 2011 and 2010, Gonzalez has faced a significant number of right handed hitters. Earlier in his career that wouldn’t have been a huge issue, as Gonzalez was acceptable against right handed hitters. But at this stage in his career he couldn’t get a right handed hitter out to save his life, so he needs to be carefully managed so that he only faces left handed hitters.
Gonzalez is the perfect LOOGY – he’s still dominant against left handed hitters, but struggles against right handed batters. Lefties could only manage a 574 OPS against him, compared to right handers who put up a Pujolsian 900 OPS against Gonzalez. He struck out nearly a batter an inning vs lefties, while limiting the walks. He’s a set up calibre reliever vs left handed hitters, and for teams in a playoff run that is incredibly valuable.
For a Rangers team expected to compete for the playoffs, it’s a shock that they, or any other team for that matter, wouldn’t guarantee Gonzalez a major league contract. At this point failing to guarantee a Major League deal to Mike Gonzalez is like shouting to the world “No no, that’s OK, I don’t need Kryptonite when I’m going up against Superman.”. Gonzalez is lethal against left handed hitting, and despite his struggles against right handed hitters is absolutely deserving of a major league contract.
Whoever ends up signing Gonzalez is going to have a tremendous bargain on their hands.