NY Sports Day
Rich Mancuso

Yankees And Gio Was A Process

Credit: NY Sportsday Wire

To understand Gio Gonzalez’ deal with the New York Yankees is not difficult. The Yankees saw some value with the veteran lefthander. It is not a risky move and by April 20th, Gonzalez can opt out of the deal and move on. It’s also an insurance policy for the Yankees with a starting rotation that has many question marks.

Most of all the $3 million of Gonzalez’ contract, assuming he gets to the Bronx, comes at minimum cost for the Yankees. In essence, GM Brian Cashman was on target and the Yankees will obtain a starter that gets them five or six innings before going to a bullpen that is considered the best in baseball.

With the new season approaching a week from Thursday at Yankee Stadium, Gonzalez does have some obstacles to climb before joining the Yankees 25-man roster in the Bronx.

In 2017, the lefthander was among the finalists in the voting for the NL CY Young Award while pitching for the Washington Nationals.The deal with the Yankees is a win for all. He can ask for a release if he is not added to the roster by April 20. The Yankees will start the season without Luis Severino, who won’t return from shoulder problems until at least the end of May. CC Sabathia could also start the season on the injured list with recurring knee pain and there is also that five-game suspension that dates back to a near brawl in late September.

For Gonzalez, an innings eater, the Yankees get a veteran who gets the ground ball outs. Last season, the 33-year old went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA combined with the Nationals and Brewers. He was 3-0 with Milwaukee while posting a respective 2.13 ERA. During the postseason with Milwaukee, Gonzalez appeared twice against the Dodgers.

Obviously, the Yankees have nothing to lose with this deal. Gonzalez plans to work his way back to being a premiere pitcher and at 33-years of age, he remains in good health, but the remaining issue here is why it took so long for Gonzalez to latch on with another team?

And that my friends is also an issue, Not only was it an issue for Gonzalez but for other veteran players. More so, the veteran pitcher seeking a lucrative contract, who was once a commodity, that obviously has gone out the window.

Gonzalez, who has a career 3.69 ERA and has averaged 187 innings over the last nine years with Oakland, the Nationals, and Brewers, was also a point of discussion with the cross-town Mets. There was a possible need for another lefthander in their rotation. With Steven Matz and his inconsistency this spring,  Gio Gonzalez would have been a perfect fit. Jason Vargas and his two-year $16 million deal with an option could have gone to the bullpen.

Citi Field has been a successful venue for Gonzalez. Last season, when asked about his success there, he said Citi Field was his favorite place to pitch. He has a career 1.78 ERA when pitching at Citi.

“It’s the right move and next step to where I want to be,” Gonzalez said when contacted by this reporter. “It’s been a long process and I am ready to go tomorrow.”

He was seeking a three-year deal and perhaps this new thing called analytics got in the way. Baseball is obsessed with the new data and teams appear to be backing off on major deals for veteran players.

For Gonzalez, it’s about moving on to a new chapter, and it’s about having a spring training with the Yankees’ minor league system. He informed me that he can pitch tomorrow because of daily off season conditioning and throwing.

The process in late March, with a week before Opening Day, is something that can be difficult for a 33-year old pitcher. Preparing and adjusting this late in the game are not easy. The Yankees took a chance and analytics went out the window here. This unique contract of $3 million is assured for Gonzalez, contingent of course if he makes the team by that deadline of April 20th.

Indeed, this process was difficult for Gio Gonzalez. It continues to be a process for Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel, one a starter and the other an elite closer. It’s more than the luxury tax and revenue sharing. This is baseball economics as it exists and it may be leading owners and players on a collision course and possible work stoppage in a few years.

The numbers did not add up for 32-year old Lance Lynn, but the right hander was signed by the Texas Rangers for 3-years at $30 million. There are others that got more than Gonzalez and are a year or two older. Again, analytics has become the new thing with GM’s and they listen to the date by those who have been hired to compile the numbers.

Gonzalez’ numbers over the years were enough to earn him that lucrative contract of $53 million that the Nationals awarded him and he ranks second with 79 wins on the Nationals all-time wins list.

He deserved better, but it’s time to move on and the Yankees made a wise decision. The Mets would not take the chance. Now it’s a matter of time and by the end of April, Gio Gonzalez will be a perfect fit in the Yankees rotation.

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