MLB Hot Stove signings: Mets agree to deal with free agent Adrian Gonzalez
The veteran first baseman is coming off a sub-par and injury-marred 2017 season
Gonzalez, 35, is owed $21.5 million for the upcoming season, but because he was released the Mets will be responsible for just the league minimum (the Braves will pick up the rest). In some senses, that makes this a low-risk addition by the Mets. As for the performance side of things, it's not particularly encouraging.
Gonzalez is coming off a 2017 season in which he batted .242/.287/.355 with just three home runs in 71 games for the Dodgers. Part of that is probably customary decline for first baseman in his mid-30s, and part of it is because of Gonzalez's back problems. On the other hand, Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said back in early November that he expected Gonzalez to be healthy by Spring Training, and Gonzalez was durable and productive in recent seasons coming into last year.
On a preliminary basis, the SportsLine (@SportsLine on Twitter) Projection Model tabs Gonzalez for a .712 OPS next season. That's obviously not adequate for a first baseman, but there's a chance he overshoots that forecast, especially is he's indeed healthy.
The Mets got good production from Lucas Duda last season, but he was traded to the Rays and is now a free agent. Prospect Dominic Smith figures to be in line to take over at first base. However, he's not a sure thing, and the Mets have reportedly been frustrated with his conditioning. If nothing else, the addition of Gonzalez gives the Mets a fallback and also perhaps signals to Smith that nothing is to be assumed when it comes to the first base job in 2018.
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