The Milwaukee Brewers will see LHP Gio Gonzalez file for free agency in a few days’ time as his one year contract has expired. Should he be brought back?
When the Milwaukee Brewers decided to gamble on their young starting pitchers going into the 2019 season, they left themselves with very little in terms of insurance if they failed. Two of the three did fail in the rotation, which put the team in a precarious position.
But luckily the New York Yankees, who signed Gio Gonzalez to a minor league deal in spring training, decided not to call him up as he reached his opt out date and Gonzalez became a free agent again. Shortly thereafter, the Brewers picked up the phone, called Gonzalez, and got him to Milwaukee on a one year deal worth $2 million guaranteed, plus possible incentives.
Since then, Gonzalez was a stabilizing force in the starting rotation, posting a 3.50 ERA in 17 starts this season. Once he joined the team, it was easy to see that the rotation as a whole started to perform better. As a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse that can still produce on the field, Gonzalez provides a lot of value.
Should the Brewers re-sign Gio Gonzalez?
To me, this answer is a clear and obvious ‘yes’. While Gonzalez is nowhere near what he was in his prime, he’s a durable, consistent arm that will gobble up innings and help along the young members of the pitching staff.
With the other rotation candidates the Brewers have and where Gonzalez is at in his career, he likely won’t be guaranteed a rotation spot out of the gate in Milwaukee. But he could take that important long reliever/spot starter role that can fill in for the rotation when needed and pitch some innings out of the bullpen.
Gonzalez isn’t a selfish player, and is willing to pitch out of the bullpen if that’s what the team needs of him.
An Insurance Policy
In all likelihood, the Milwaukee Brewers will give another opportunity to young starters like Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, and Freddy Peralta in 2020. Those kids need to be given that opportunity to succeed in the rotation, especially Burnes. But at the same time, the Brewers can’t completely trust them and have no insurance in case they struggle again.
But acquiring other starting pitchers that will be good enough to take the team where they want to go will require a rotation spot right off the bat. So it’s a tricky balancing act for GM David Stearns to give his young starters a chance to succeed, but be able to pick up the slack and have enough firepower in the rotation in case they don’t.
That’s where Gonzalez comes in.
He’s a sturdy veteran that has proven he can still be a productive player into his mid-30s and has been a stabilizer for this rotation. He won’t take innings away from the young pitchers, but he’ll be ready to jump in just in case they can’t produce. It’s exactly what the Brewers need.
Finding a guy like that can be difficult on the open market, but having one who’s already familiar with the city, the team, the clubhouse, and the culture, and has been a key member of that team in the recent past and has found success with them is a needle in a haystack. Gio Gonzalez checks all those boxes.
Bringing Gonzalez back on a one year contract worth somewhere between $3-5 million is something that the Milwaukee Brewers should definitely consider, and Gonzalez would most likely listen to whatever the Brewers would offer.
The Brewers first acquired Gonzalez from the Nationals in August 2018, he performed well over the final month, performed well again in 2019, and could be in line for his third stint in a Brewers uniform.