Adrian Gonzalez: A Sleeper Trade Candidate in 2017?

Adrian Gonzalez is most definitely the model of consistency within the Dodgers lineup. As Vin Scully would say, he’s their “butter-and-egg man.” He is a lifetime .290 hitter and averages around 28 home runs a season. Throw in four Gold Glove Awards and you’ve found yourself a model employee in Gonzalez.

Over the past couple seasons, Gonzalez has seen a bit of a dip in his offensive production, most notably his RBI totals. In 2015 and 2016, he totaled exactly 90 RBI, which is nothing to scoff at. It’s worth stating, though, this is the same player who led the league in RBIs in 2014 with a whopping 116. His average with the Dodgers has hovered just over .280, but where his game does appear to be suffering is on the base paths.

Gonzalez’s slugging percentage is one indication that his tremendous lack of speed is hurting his offensive contributions to the lineup. In 2015, he slugged .480 which put him in 32nd place among major leaguers. Last season, his slugging percentage dropped to .435, his lowest slugging percentage since first years with Texas. There were a total of 91 major leaguers with better slugging percentages in 2016. Lastly, his WAR in 2016 was 2.1, putting him in 123th among the rest of the league.

[graphiq id=”aViqGEv5yOV” title=”Adrian Gonzalez 2016 Complete Batting Splits” width=”640″ height=”523″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/aViqGEv5yOV” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/6072/Adrian-Gonzalez” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Now, the latest discrepancies in his numbers would easily be adjusted had he hit more home runs in 2016. The man who has been averaging close to 30 home runs a season hit a snag last year, hitting an uncharacteristic 18 dingers. His lack of power left him with only 247 total bases, down from 274 in 2015 and 285 in ’14.

This hurts the Dodgers. Gonzalez is easily one of the slowest runners in the league. The Dodgers away from Gonzalez have a lineup that lends itself towards creating runs along the base paths. Guys like Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles and Yasiel Puig have the sort of speed around the bases. The kind of speed that leads to more aggressive decisions like taking an extra base on a ball in the gap and scoring from second to home on a batted ball.

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Gonzalez is a prototypical middle of the order batter. He knows how to drive the ball into the gaps and has defenses playing heavy shifts, even with runners on base. His run production does take a hit when he singles and walks at the beginning of innings, however. Seldom can he advance from first to third or from second to home and he also impedes the base runners that reach base behind him. Fans needn’t look further than the 2016 NLCS versus the Cubs and the play that stood as called when Gonzalez was thrown out at home. A base runner like this strips the team’s ability to put plays on while at bat and with runners on.

The point I’m making is without his average 28 homers a year, Gonzalez can really hamper the Dodgers’ ability to score in some cases.

Granted this is all mostly theory, but it is an interesting enough angle to garner at least a brief glimpse. Is Gonzalez having trouble hitting for power in Dodger Stadium? Could he have an easier time hitting home runs in another ballpark? We have seen the current Dodgers management make a shocking move in favor of more functionality throughout the lineup. Just look back at the Winter in 2014 when the Dodgers traded all-star second baseman Dee Gordon in order to add both Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick to the Dodger infield. It was a polarizing move, but it was made in order to put more runners on for guys like Gonzalez to drive in.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the Dodgers want to make sure they have a seasoned pro at first base to ease the transition that will eventually lead to top prospect Cody Bellinger taking the reins. Does it have to be Gonzalez though? Possibly; yes and no. Gonzalez is a fan favorite and is a source of guidance in the Dodger clubhouse. He would be sorely missed should the Dodgers ever decide to deal him.

Just like when A.J. Ellis was dealt in 2016 in favor of more offense versus lefties, receiving catcher Carlos Ruiz in the deal. Not only was the move hard on fans, but it also told us that the Dodgers’ upper-management values numbers before character or any other intangible.

There is no reason to think that Gonzalez wouldn’t fetch the Dodgers a lot in return, either. He is turning 35 next year and plays a position keen to players who are older than most. As a first baseman, he could have one more contract waiting for him at the other end of his deal that expires after 2018. He would certainly be valuable to an American League team. Perhaps a few that missed out on Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo this offseason.

It’s a long shot, but there are certain logical parameters that are being fulfilled, (Speaking theoretically, of course.) Alternatives exist at first base for the Dodgers. Scott Van Slyke is an alternative, though he’s coming off of two straight seasons of injury and decreased offensive production. The Dodgers have also been rumored to have had discussions with multiple teams during the Winter Meetings weeks ago, even I can’t imagine a deal like this being ironed out in a matter of weeks.

No, I would more safely (if there is such a thing) suggest that the Dodgers may find themselves in a position by late-July in which they may have to get incredibly creative to get them through the dog days in August and September. It’s entirely safe to assume that Gonzalez will be a Dodger at least until 2018, but stranger things have happened. We’ve seen the Dodgers make big moves before in recent years. Perhaps 2017 could be such a year.

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JD Miller

JD is a lifelong California native and currently writes for a subsidiary newspaper under the umbrella of The Madera Tribune. A passionate sports fan, JD loves the Dodgers along with the L.A. Kings, Lakers and Green Bay Packers.


  1. Merely theory.. indeed! Van Slyke should go WAAAYY before Agon.. Along with Kike, McCarthy, Avilan, Blanton and a ‘ host ‘ of ” Deadbeats ” that Friedman SO covets ! Dead weight with no return..

  2. Two reasons the Dodgers would never trade Gonzalez.First he’s Hispanic and that is a huge fan base to alienate. Second,Gonzalez lengthens the line up more than any other Dodger. He’s a professional hitter and if Puig had Gonzalez’ brain he’d be the best in MLB history. But alas……

  3. I would find that to be very disappointing.  He comes through a lot, no matter what the stats portray.

  4. You would have to absolutely prove to me that Bellinger could handle the load before I ever consider trading A-Gone.

  5. What do you do? Play him still while his numbers continue to fall for two years?  Sounds like ” let him run the race, because he will eventually cross the finish line”. He no longer can catch up with good lefties. As said. If he doesn’t homer , then he’s  clogging up the bases. As said too he has integrity and would help any younger talent, but others should get reps. How do you measure Bellinger if he never has a chance to play. He’s in the same position that Ago was when he came up.

  6. Robert Hamilton I agree. However, it is with what urgency The Dodgers will treat the pursuit of The World Series objective now.. The goal is to get there.. sooner than later.. Adding a decent bat would certainly further that objective now. Agon is still worth 80 + runs. Keep him and get an outfield bat. Possibly platoon him against lefties and bat him 6th. Can Bellinger play outfield?

  7. DavidLyons1 Robert Hamilton   Yes. He is considered a pretty good corner outfielder. He has decent speed and a god glove. But they are overloaded with LH hitting outfielders.

  8. Dodgers may want to shop Adrian Gonzalez and let Cody Bellinger play full time at first base. Here are some trade idea’s that the Dodgers should look at…..#1. Trade Adrian Gonzalez , Scott Van Slyke and Ross Stripling to Colorado for Carlos Gonzales or…#2. Trade Adrian Gonzalez, Willie Calhoun and Dustin Mays to Miami for Dee Gordon or…#3. Trade Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Van Slyke and Austin Barnes and Ross Stripling to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCutchen. I would really like to see Dee Gordon in Dodger Blue Again!!!!!

  9. RichardSpears2  No way any of those happen. Gonzo, SVS and Stripling for Gonzo? Why in the world would the Dodgers trade for another LH hitting OF? Dee Gordon is not coming back no matter what anyone wants. As for your 3rd trade to Pittsburgh, lunacy. Trading 4 guys, including your backup catcher and top run producer for a guy who has had 3 down years in a row is crazy.

  10. Totally ridiculous to even think about it bc we don’t have a mlb ready first baseman for another year or two and then I think Bellinger will be ready by then and I might think about that in 2018 but not any earlier than that

  11. Michael Norris RichardSpears2 One, Dodgers already are listening to trades for Gonzalez. Two Barnes, De Leon, Rios has already been offered talk for McCutchen.

  12. RichardSpears2 Michael Norris  Who the hell is Rios? As far as trading for McCutcheon, I could see that. He is a RH bat. Tell me, why would they trade their back up catcher ( Barnes ), the only catcher on the roster besides Grandal, who has any MLB experience? I have not read anywhere that they are listening to trades for Gonzo at all. Two problems, 1. his contract, the Dodgers would no doubt have to pay most of it and 2. Lack of a MLB ready replacement. And do not tell me Bellinger. The kid has less than 2 months time at AAA. And McCutcheon would not play CF in LA> That’s Joc’s spot. So you move him to LF and trade who? Puig is not going anywhere, Ethier’s contract says he can void any trade. Thompson and SVS both coming off injuries, They love Toles speed and contact with the bat. I think you are throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks. Trading Gonzo at this point is not an option unless they get a first baseman back who plays every day. The big hole is at 2nd base. Trading Gonzo does not solve that problem at all, and the OF is over crowded as it is. Your trade makes no sense.

  13. junren65 Case in point – 2 RBI Single off of Chapman in the top of the 8th in the NLCS. The numbers say he shouldn’t have gotten that hit but he did. Totally agree with you

  14. DavidLyons1 Blanton is a free agent. Can’t really dump the second most consistent bullpen arm the had last season when he’s not on the team.

  15. DBCooper__ DavidLyons1 Blanton was an addendo.. You missed the point DB. Those other deadbeats serve no purpose and are dead weight but collectively have trade value for a ‘need’ of The Dodgers.. i.e. A bat.. middle relief/#4 starter.

  16. DavidLyons1 No, i got the point. But my point was Blanton didn’t belong on your list, aside from not being on the team but because of his performance last year as well. I wouldn’t consider him “dead weight.” 
    And I don’t know that I agree about a middle relief or #4 starter. A late option/set up man, sure, but middle relief? Ross and Wood alone are viable options, not to mention the other plethora of starters they have that can fill either of those roles. 
    No one is going to give them anything of value for anyone you named above, all coming off down or injury years. They’re throw in pieces, at best, on something bigger all while having to eat their contracts. I totally agree about finding ways to move most of them (maybe trade deadline pending their first half play?) but doing that is so much easier said then done.

  17. DBCooper__ DavidLyons1 So you are saying that The Dodgers should carry the ‘Dead weight’ for half of the season to see how they do? Past performanc, or lack thereof, would be an important indicator to me. Again, I’m speaking in terms of The Dodgers’ competing for The World Series now.. Not in 2019.

  18. DavidLyons1 Nah man, I’m saying I don’t think they have much of a choice. They won’t get anything of value for any of them in their current state. Past performance is totally an indicator, but you’re only looking at this last years performance for some of them. 
    They’re all depth pieces, Kike and SVS aren’t starters. 2015 was one season ago, if those two are over their 2016 injuries (Kike had the abdonminal issue and his family problems, and SVS had wrist issues) and can mash lefties like they did in ’15, they regain value for either trade or off the bench – which both are relevant now. They were one of the leagues most productive bench in ’15.
    If anyone actually takes them now in a trade, the Dodgers would just be stuck with a lateral trade and end up with more mediocrity. Unless they were a throw in piece, a la Braun for Puig with McCarthy as a throw in like they almost did at the last deadline, then that would make sense. That’s the only way you can dump, as of right now. 
    Aside from cutting bait like they did with Crawford, League etc, but in those cases they had the depth to fall back on for those positions. They cut bait on Kike and SVS now you have one back up outfielder, Thompson, assuming he’s even healthy enough to play by March and doesn’t have a years worth of rust to play through. (though personally I’m all for cutting bait on Availan lol).
    Again, totally agree on finding creative ways to shave off the fat but I don’t think they have much a choice at this point. The starters are starters, now it’s basically pray the bench/depth pieces can regain their performances of years past. But hey, I guess we’ll see what happens

  19. DBCooper__ That’s ironic you said ” mash ” the ball in 2015.. My son and I refer to SVS as ‘The Masher’.. Ha! Ya know, the money issue with Friedman is a ‘folly’. The Dodgers plop down about 3.5 million butts / yr. at Dodger Stadium come hell or high water.. But those fans are getting antsy and are awaiting sooner results.. Ticket prices were raised.. TV revenue will be up 12% / yr. and The Dodgers own their own network. The ‘bad deals’ made by former owners ( VPs of player personnel ) are exactly that. Get on with it.

  20. DavidLyons1 haha that’s awesome, the masher! I couldn’t agree more. It’s insane, and thats all before factoring in the parking, concessions and merchandising they pull. You’re absolutely right, results need to happen. I’d really hate for them to end up like the 90’s Braves. 14 (?) playoff appearances and one championship……just thinking about it depresses me.

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