By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Rockies’ signing of outfielder Gerardo Parra is a tell-tale sign that fellow outfielders Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon will be traded. Colorado is too left-handed heavy with Parra, Gonzalez, Blackmon and Corey Dickerson in the outfield mix.
The Chicago White Sox fit the bill as a team interested in acquiring a power-hitting left-handed bat in the outfield. The potential deal that stands out is the 30-year-old Gonzalez and his hefty salary going to the White Sox for young, contract-controllable players like outfielder Avisail Garcia and a pitcher. Being in a transition mode, the Rockies would love to move Gonzalez’s contract.
Gonzalez has location-neutralized stats that project to 29 home runs and 86 RBIs per 162 games. Because of the significant split difference between Coors Field and road stadiums, teams interest in trading for him must try and project what’s a realistic season for him outside Coors’ friendly hitting confines.
Gonzalez will earn $17 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017. This is a hefty price to pay, but his contract fits into the White Sox short-term mindset of going for it. The White Sox have made it clear to the free-agent outfielders that they don’t want to commit beyond a three-year offer.
Gonzalez’s injury history is a concern when looking into obtaining him. He played in a career-high 153 games in 2015, but he played in only 180 games combined in the previous two seasons. Gonzalez has averaged just 123 games per season since the start of 2010.
The White Sox could bite the bullet on the salary in 2016, knowing that $29 million will come off of the books when the contracts of left-handed Jon Danks and designated hitter/first baseman Adam LaRoche expire after this season. The White Sox would love to unload LaRoche in any deal like this one, but that could be difficult to accomplish. LaRoche will earn $13 million this year, and Colorado has signed Mark Reynolds to to play first base.
Chicago’s in a win-now frame of mind. The White Sox traded for infielders Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, two players who can be free agents after the 2017 season. That’s also when Gonzalez will be looking at his own free agency. Chicago outfielder Melky Cabrera also comes off the books after 2017.
Gonzalez would potentially slot between right-swinging batters Jose Abreu and Frazier in a lineup that would then have balance. The White Sox have looked to add a solid left-handed power bat for the last five seasons. They had signed Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56-million contract before the 2011 season and LaRoche came in last year with a two-year $25 million deal.
The White Sox and Rockies have had ongoing discussions throughout the offseason about a trade.
Gonzalez hit .271 with 40 homers, 97 RBIs and an .864 OPS last season. He hit .299 at home and .243 on the road, and 24 of is 40 homers were hit in Coors Field. The Orioles and Angels have been linked with Gonzalez in the rumor mill as well.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.