The Los Angeles Dodgers playoff roster will not include Adrian Gonzalez.
The team announced the $22-million first baseman has been shut down for the season effective immediately after his ailing back flared up following Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Padres.
Gonzalez missed extensive time during the regular season with back issues and at no point appeared to be completely healthy. Still, it was expected the veteran would be counted on in the postseason if he could stay on the field, whether it be as a regular or more likely as an experienced pinch hitter. Clearly there’s concern the 35-year-old’s back wouldn’t hold up, so he’ll be allowed to rest while the Dodgers roll with Cody Bellinger at first base.
Roberts did leave the door open for Gonzalez to return if another injury occurred. He also announced Gonzalez intends to return in 2018 to finish out his seven-year, $154 million contract.
If we’re being completely honest, this might be the worst development for Los Angeles from a pure baseball perspective. Though obviously disappointing for Gonzalez on a personal level, it will allow manager Dave Roberts to put his most effective lineup on the field without a second thought. Bellinger has seemed better suited to play first base anyway, and now their crowded outfield has one less body.
Gonzalez hit just .242 with three homers and 30 RBIs in 71 games this season. He’s no longer a legitimate power threat, and his already limited mobility has been lessened even more. Despite his experience and his salary, he couldn’t be viewed as one of the team’s best or most reliable 25 players.
Bellinger, on the other hand, will be the NL Rookie of the Year. That’s not up for debate and neither should his place in the postseason lineup. With him locked in at first base, Roberts can figure out who among Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Curtis Granderson, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier will make up his outfield.
In the grand scheme of things, the Dodgers would no doubt prefer Gonzalez to be one-hundred percent healthy and capable of producing like the five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove award winner he once was. But those days are clearly behind him, while the Dodgers time to win is right now.
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