Adrian Gonzalez was once a fixture in the Dodger’s lineup. The last remnant from the 2012 blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox had never spent time on the disabled list in his entire career before the 2017 season. Gonzalez was an iron man never appearing in less than 156 games during his Dodger career. He was also the rock of the Dodger lineup. Gonzo smashed 101 home runs for the Dodgers during the regular season over his five-years as a Dodger.
Until this season when his back gave out. Gonzo appeared in only 71 games and collected just 252 plate appearances in 2017. He slashed .242/.287/.355 with 3 home runs, 30 runs batted in and posted a .642 OPS. Gonzo garnered just 20 extra-base hits. So in late April Gonzalez was officially placed on the disabled list. In the meantime top prospect Cody Bellinger was recalled from Oklahoma City and eventually took over the everyday first base duties. Of course Bellinger would go onto slug 39 home runs and have one of the greatest rookie seasons in Dodgers history.
While Bellinger was setting records, Gonzo found himself in an odd position, as a cheerleader. Gonzo would return in May but was less than effective at the plate. The veteran’s return pushed Bellinger back to left field for a while. Eventually Gonzo was unable to perform because of his faulty back and he returned to the disabled list.
When Gonzalez came back in August, the Dodgers inserted him back into the lineup as he returned to man his position at first base. Gonzo’s numbers continued to dip. He batted just .214 in June, and .191 in August. He also hit just .191 against left handers. He had just 8 extra-base hits in the second half. This was a tell-tale sign of the severe back problems that have plagued him not only throughout the 2017 season but also over the last several seasons.
On September26, Gonzalez hit his third home run of the season in a 9-2 win over San Diego. Immediately after the game the Dodgers announced that Gonzalez would not be on the postseason roster and would be sent home for the rest of the season. It was shocking news for Dodger fans who have been so accustomed to seeing Gonzo in the middle of the batting order.
Gonzalez was on a family vacation when the Dodgers won the pennant and reached the World Series for the first time since 1988. However he did reappear before game 2 joining Orel, Joe, Nomar, and Jerry in the sportsnetla studio.
Gonzalez’s 154 million dollar contract expires at the end of the 2018 season. Gonzo will become a free agent before the 2019 season. Gonzalez has hinted at possibly retiring once his contract is over, but could the Dodgers move him before that happens? Gonzo earned 22.3 million dollars this season and is due to earn 22.3 million dollars in the final year of his contract next season.
Does Gonzo have a place with the Dodgers in 2018? With the emergence of Cody Bellinger and the lack of positional depth for Gonzo (he can only play first base) probably will signal the end of Adrian Gonzalez’s Dodger career. No other player in recent years has impacted the Dodgers like Gonzo has. His power, clutch hitting and solid glove were a driving force for the Dodgers since 2012. His quiet leadership set the tone for younger players for years to come. Do you think Gonzalez has a place with the Dodgers in 2018?