The Mariners released Gonzalez on Thursday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. The likelihood of MLB implementing extra roster spots for teams when the season resumes may have providing a slight boost to Gonzalez's chances of earning a spot with the Mariners, but the 34-year-old never looked to be a good fit on a rebuilding squad. Now released from his third team in just over a year, Gonzalez's time as a big-league player could be over.
Gonzalez is unlikely to make the Mariners' roster out of spring training, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Gonzalez can opt out of his contract on the first of any month between April and August. The veteran slugger is likely to do so if he's officially left off Seattle's roster, which would make him a free agent eligible to sign with any club that has a spot for him.
Gonzalez has a clear path to a roster spot as the Mariners' fourth outfielder after Jose Siri was claimed off waivers by the Giants and Braden Bishop was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Gonzalez seemed to have found a prime landing spot when he signed with the Mariners as a non-roster invitee shortly before the start of camp, and that looks even more true following Tuesday's moves. While he's now likely to have a roster spot, that doesn't necessarily mean he's likely to be a fantasy asset. He's still not in line to start, and even if he was, he'll be playing in a tough home park on a team with a weak lineup, and he hasn't posted an above-average batting line since 2016.
Gonzalez signed with the Mariners as a non-roster invitee Tuesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The 34-year-old isn't close to the five-tool star he was at his peak. He's recorded below-average batting lines in three straight seasons and failed to stick with either the Indians or Cubs last season, hitting a combined .200/.289/.283 in 45 games. In theory, the Mariners could give Gonzalez plenty of opportunities early in order to showcase him for a trade to a contender, but they could also elect to play their younger options instead.
Gonzalez intends to continue his playing career in 2020, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. Gonzalez was forced to settle for a one-year, $2 million deal with the Indians last winter after back-to-back down years with the Rockies limited his value on the open market. Unsurprisingly, Gonzalez's fortunes didn't improve with the move away from Coors Field, but his performance was much worse than most probably envisioned. Between his unsuccessful stints with the Tribe and the Cubs, Gonzalez slashed just .200/.289/.283 and struck out in 31.3 percent of his 166 plate appearances before he was released for the second time of the season last July. Gonzalez's track record should be enough for him to land a minor-league deal if he's willing to accept one, but his declining bat and lack of defensive value will make it an uphill battle for him to earn an Opening Day roster spot with any team.