It’s amazing how quickly things can come screeching to a halt. After eleven straight seasons of 156+ games played, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s durability finally caught up with him in 2017.
Having never been on the disabled list before, the 35-year-old Gonzalez finally succumbed to his mortality and (as a result) turned in the worst season of his career.
The injuries began in Spring Training when he reported with tennis elbow in his left arm, which kept him extremely limited all spring. He didn’t begin the season on the disabled list, but a herniated disc in his back hampered him all season and caused him a few separate DL stints, ultimately ending with him being shut down before the postseason.
Since 2007, Gonzalez had never finished with fewer than 90 RBIs — this season, he had just 30. Since 2006, Gonzalez had never finished with a batting average under .275 — this season, that number fell to .242. It’s the first time his OBP fell below .340 (this year it was .287), his slugging percentage fell below .435 (this year it was .355), and as alluded to at the beginning, his 71 games played were his fewest since he was a 23-year-old.
Of course, we can’t talk about 2017 and Adrian Gonzalez without also mentioning the guy who replaced him — Cody Bellinger. Thanks to the success of Bellinger, the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year, Gonzalez was never able to find a pathway back to regular playing time even when nearing full strength.
Gonzalez’s best game of the season came way back on May 21 in a matchup with the Miami Marlins — about a month before he would hit the disabled list. He finished the game going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI’s in the team’s 6-3 win.
While nothing is for certain, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Gonzalez is back in Los Angeles next season. While he does hold 10-and-5 no-trade rights, it’s clear that he’s not all that interested in sitting on the bench next season and that the Dodgers would love to unload some of the $21.5 million he is owed this season.
His contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, so a team looking for a first baseman or designated hitter may take a chance on him at a low price. If the Dodgers are unable to trade him though it is hard to see him as more than a bench player in 2018 unless he can somehow return to his pre-injury form.