What Happened In 2017: Battled injuries since Spring Training, limiting him to just 71 games on the year, and led to his eventual usurpation by Cody Bellinger as the Dodgers’ starting first baseman.
Adrian Gonzalez battled bulging discs in his back and nagging elbow inflammation throughout most of the year, and he landed on the disabled list in May for the first time in his 14-year career. Diminished due to his injuries, Gonzalez only mustered three home runs and finished the year with a career-worst .355 slugging percentage, .642 on-base plus slugging percentage and .113 ISO. The butter and eggs were all but gone. By May it was time to come to terms with that.
Gonzalez tried to compensate for his sore elbow, and the adjustments to his mechanics subsequently led to him straining his left triceps. Then he aggravated his back on an off day picking up his daughter. He admitted he should have started the season on the DL.
“I’ve just got broken parts, man,” he said with a grin.
A-Gon returned a little over two weeks later, but a second stint on the disabled list was longer, and he was not activated again until August. Those injuries opened the door for Bellinger, who seized the opportunity to play full time for the Dodgers. His epic rise to become one of the most successful young players in the game led to an NL Rookie Of The Year award.
With the playoffs approaching and only a few games left on the regular season schedule, the Dodgers shut Gonzalez down with back tightness. He did not play at all in any of the three postseason series, and he shifted his focus to getting healthy for 2018.
There was some awkwardness between the Dodgers and Gonzalez in October when the veteran made a trip to Italy with his family during the first round of the playoffs after he was informed he would not be on the NLDS roster even as a pinch hitter.
A-Gon returned to L.A. for the World Series, but there were rumblings of weird vibes from his teammates.
“Gonzalez was not in the dugout once the games began, but his presence still rankled some Dodgers, according to people familiar with the situation. Roberts downplayed that notion, but indicated he spoke with Gonzalez on Saturday in order to avoid a distraction during the final days of the season.”
The 35-year-old plans to play winter ball with the Charros De Jalisco this offseason.
Andrew Friedman said during the recent GM meetings that he expects Gonzalez to be healthy and ready to contribute in Spring Training, while Farhan Zaidi talked about a potential bounce back for A-Gon.
“There’s value to letting things play out,” general manager Farhan Zaidi said at the general managers meetings at the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday. “Guys can bounce back. He’s been a really, really good player for us.”
Of course we don’t expect Friedman or Zaidi to say publicly that they’re done with the veteran and will look to move him this winter, but we can expect them to be looking into all scenarios for the Dodgers, including those without Gonzalez.
2018 Status: Gonzalez, who will turn 36 in May, is owed $22.4 million in the final year of his contract. If healthy, he could stay with the team and the Dodgers could play Bellinger in left field. Or the Dodgers find a landing place for Gonzalez this winter. They could designate him for assignment, but would have to eat the remaining amount owed on his contract.