Posted on November 22, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After years of rumors and speculation that the Colorado Rockies would trade star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, he is finally approaching the final year of his contract in 2017. Oddly enough, there are now reports that the Rockies are interested in working out an extension with Gonzalez that could keep him in Colorado for many years to come.
An extension is far from imminent, but a report out of Venezuela indicates the Rockies have expressed interesting in locking up Gonzalez beyond 2017. Gonzalez is hoping to play winter ball in Venezuela for the first time since 2009 this winter if he gets permission from the Rockies.
Outside of an injury-plagued 2014 season, Gonzalez has been one of the most productive and consistent players in baseball. He bounced back from that sluggish 2014 season with a career-high 40 home runs in 2015. He then hit a slash line of .298/.350/.505 in 2016. At age 31, Gonzalez has showed few signs of slowing down and figures to have several good years left, so it’s not a surprise that the Rockies would want to hold onto him beyond next season.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez appears receptive to an extension based on Colorado’s recent improvements on the field. The Rockies were 30 games under .500 in 2014 and 26 games under .500 in 2015, but they showed significant progress in 2016, finishing just 12 games under .500, which was good enough for third place in the NL West. The Rockies also have a new manager in Bud Black, an intriguing contingent of young pitchers at the major league level, and one of the best farm systems in baseball, giving Colorado hope for continued improvement in the years to come.
Ironically, an improved farm system may make the Rockies less inclined to give Gonzalez an extension and more likely to part ways with him after next season. Colorado already has Charlie Blackmon, an emerging star who has two more years before free agency, and Gerardo Parra, who is signed for two more seasons with an option for a third. The Rockies also saw top prospects David Dahl and Raimel Tapia make their big league debut in 2016, with Dahl in particular making a great first impression.
The Rockies could conceivably let Gonzalez sign elsewhere after 2017 and still have four capable outfielders to count on with Blackmon, Parra, Dahl, and Tapia, depending on how Dahl and Tapia develop next season. Colorado may also be wise to use its money to sign Blackmon to an extension at some point, rather than try to lock up Gonzalez as he moves deeper into this 30’s. Of course, Blackmon is only a little younger than Gonzalez and hasn’t shown the same year-to-year consistency.
In any event, the Rockies appear to have several options at their disposal, especially if Gonzalez is open to signing an extension this offseason. Even taking one last shot at trading Gonzalez this winter could be among those options. As mentioned, any kind of extension with Gonzalez is still far from certain. However, that option and several others are on the table, putting the Rockies in a favorable position with regard to the future composition of their outfield.