One of the fun parts of spring is always finding out about unreported interest your favorite team had in certain players during the winter. For example, in the offseason of 2010-11, we learned that the Dodgers had shown serious interest in both Aubrey Huff and A.J. Pierzynski. Neither happened, of course, since both stayed with their previous teams, but it just goes to show that no matter how much we think we know about what teams are considering, there’s always going to be discussions and conversations we’ll never learn about.
That’s relevant today because of Adam McCalvy’s MLB.com article on veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who chose to return to Milwaukee over an offer from St. Louis. (Given the recent bad news about Rafael Furcal‘s health, one might wonder if Gonzalez regrets that decision now.) Gonzalez missed nearly all of last season after blowing out his right knee in May, though McCalvy reports that “more than a dozen teams” showed interest.
Guess who was among them?
The Dodgers also eventually showed interest, to the point that Gonzalez and his agent sat down with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly to discuss how Gonzalez could fit — playing some third base and “pushing” shortstop Hanley Ramirez. But Gonzalez thought L.A. was already too flush with infielder. He thought the best fit might have been the Red Sox because they needed a shortstop, but Boston went with Stephen Drew instead.
In a separate article for MLB.com, McCalvy notes that Gonzalez actually “turned down an offer” to play third base from the Dodgers due to that infield surplus. It’s further evidence of what we already knew — that as much as we all would love Luis Cruz to succeed, there’s more than a little concern that his nice September was a flash in the pan, given the overwhelming track record that’s piled up against him. We’ve heard about a few inquiries on the team’s part to reinforce the left side, and it’s pretty safe to assume that there were plenty more — like Gonzalez — that we weren’t aware of.
Gonzalez, 36 last week, is hardly a star, of course, though he’s carved out a nice little career. He spent most of eight seasons as Florida’s regular shortstop before being replaced by Ramirez in 2006; since then, he’s bounced from Boston to Cincinnati back to Boston to Toronto to Atlanta to Milwaukee, also missing all of 2008 with a left knee injury. He’s always been considered a capable defender, and he’s shown surprising pop for a shortstop, managing double digits six times on his way to 156 career bombs, though of course he’s given much of that back with a .292 career OBP. Still, good defense plus some power has made him a 1-2 win player on average, which is definitely nice to have.
Interestingly, he’s played every single one of his 1,559 career games at shortstop, though with Jean Segura expected to start there for the Brewers,, Gonzalez is likely to serve as utility infielder — even potentially seeing time at first base thanks to injuries to Corey Hart & Mat Gamel.
I can’t say that I’m really all that crushed that it didn’t work out with Gonzalez, because again, he’s older and coming off a serious injury. What I will say is that I’m pleased the Dodgers have recognized the risks on the left side and did their due diligence in sourcing options, even if none ultimately worked out.