Former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez struggled through the worst season of his professional career in 2017, as he showed up to Spring Training with tennis elbow and then battled through a herniated disc in his back for most of the year.
He was limited to just 71 games, batting .242/.287/.355 with three home runs and 30 RBIs, which were all career lows. With Cody Bellinger taking over as the everyday first baseman, the Dodgers were able to trade Gonzalez and his remaining salary to the Atlanta Braves.
But they immediately released Gonzalez, sending the veteran into free agency for the first time in his career. Interest in Gonzalez was few and far between, with the New York Mets most often linked to him.
On the heels of a report indicating they were closing in on a deal, Gonzalez will indeed sign with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports:
The #Mets now have decided to sign 1B Adrian Gonzalez pending a physical.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 14, 2018
Gonzalez was shut down at the end of last season due to the herniated disc, forcing him to miss the entire postseason. He has worked extremely hard to get healthy this offseason, though, and is hopeful to report to Spring Training in good health.
The move is a low-risk one for the Mets, as with the Braves paying Gonzalez’s 2018 salary, they are likely not signing him for more than a minimum contract.
One of New York’s top prospects, 22-year-old Dominic Smith, plays first base, but there may be some concern within the organization whether he is ready to take on an everyday role. So, Gonzalez provides insurance if that is the case.
Smith made his Major League debut for the Mets last season, hitting .198/.262/.395 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in 49 games (183 plate appearances).
The Mets are set to make their annual trip to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers on Sept. 1-3, so Dodger fans will have to wait a while before giving Gonzalez a warm ovation.