After being traded to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, Adrian Gonzalez has been released and is a free agent for the first time in his career.
The Braves officially released Adrian Gonzalez today
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 18, 2017
Debuting in 2004, Gonzalez has had a long and successful career while playing for the Rangers, Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers. He’s made five All Star teams, while winning four Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards. Gonzalez has always been the model of consistency, hitting 311 home runs while slashing .288/.359/.488 over his 14 seasons.
Gonzalez came to the Dodgers in 2012 as the main piece of a blockbuster deal with the Red Sox. Since that trade, Gonzalez slashed .280/.339/.454 with 101 home runs and 448 runs driven in. Gonzalez was always a staple in the middle of the Dodgers order, coming through in the big moments countless times. That all changed in 2017 when Gonzalez went on the disabled list for the first time in his career in May. His first stint was due to elbow soreness, but upon his return he began to have bigger issues. Gonzalez suffered a herniated disc in his back and ended up missing the majority of the season.
Adrian’s back issues never fully healed during the season. This, along with the emergence of Cody Bellinger, led to Gonzalez being shut down in September and missing the postseason. After this, he shifted his focus to getting ready to return healthy in 2018. Prior to the trade Dave Roberts still saw Gonzalez as a contributor, and noted that he expected him to compete for at-bats in 2018.
Despite being 35-years old, Adrian will likely draw plenty of interest in the open market. Gonzalez will receive his full $21.5 million salary from his previous contract, so he can play for the minimum salary for another club. As noted by Bob Nightengale, location and playing time will be the main things Gonzalez considers when signing.
The Atlanta #Braves carry out promise to Adrian Gonzalez and officially releases him. He is still getting paid $21.5 million and is now willing to play for the minimum salary. He prefers to stay relatively close to his San Diego home, but most of all, is seeking playing time
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 18, 2017
The Padres remain a possibility for Gonzalez. He’s from San Diego and had some of his best seasons while playing in a Padre uniform. The possibility hinges on the Padres pursuit of Eric Hosmer, one of the top free agents on the market. If Hosmer does sign with San Diego, there won’t be enough playing time available to entice Adrian.
It’s still unclear what teams are pursuing Gonzalez, but if San Diego doesn’t work out then playing in the American League makes the most sense. Gonzalez may have a shelf full of Gold Glove awards, but his chronic back issues make him a good candidate to be a designated hitter. At the very least it’s hard to see him able to play in the field every day without his back issues resurfacing.
Wherever Adrian ends up playing next season, he’ll still have the Dodger fans behind him. We all wish him the best of luck as he finishes his tremendous career!
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