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Tigers Reportedly One Of Three Teams Eyeing Adrian Gonzalez

Is the five-time All-Star worth a gander?

January 23, 2019 - 12:10 pm
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A few years ago, Adrian Gonzalez would have been a natural free-agent target for the Tigers.

Now? Well, players change just as surely as the times. 

With Gonzalez looking to salvage his career after spending most of last season without a team, the five-time All-Star held a showcase last week to drum up some interest. Three teams were in attendance, according to J.P. Hoornstra, and the Tigers were among them.  

Gonzalez played in 54 games for the Mets last year, hitting .237 with a .672 OPS before being released. The Mets had signed him to a one-year deal worth the major-league minimum in the offseason.

His last productive season came in 2016 with the Dodgers when he hit .285 with 18 homers and 90 RBI. 

The Tigers' interest in Gonzalez could signal a move to DH for first baseman Miguel Cabrera. It's something Ron Gardenhire said at the end of last season he'd entertain, and Cabrera later said he'd be open to the switch himself. 

Cabrera, who turns 36 in April, has missed over 150 games the past two seasons with various injuries. Keeping him off his feet -- at least in the field -- could help him stay healthy. 

“I always focus on how I can help the team be better," Cabrera told reporters in October. "Al (Avila), Gardy will sit with me and talk about that. I’m very open to talk. I like to play first, but if they decide to give me a lot more days at DH, I gotta think about it. If it’s better for the team and better for my health, I gotta say, yeah." 

Gonzalez is a four-time Gold Glover at first base, although his defense has waned in recent years. Still, he's a better alternative to Cabrera than anyone currently on the Tigers roster, including the likes of John Hicks and Niko Goodrum. 

Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos does not appear to be an option. 

The 36-year-old Gonzalez was drafted first overall by the Marlins in 2000 when Avila worked in the team's front office. A reunion between player and GM isn't out of the cards. For the Tigers, who could surely sign Gonzalez for the major-league minimum, there'd be little to lose. 

If Gonzalez flops, they can cut him loose. If he turns back the clock, they can flip him at the trade deadline. And assuming he'd play primarily at first, he wouldn't block any of Detroit's prominent prospects from a spot on the big-league roster. 

On top of his recent showcase, Gonzalez has been doing some self-promotion via Twitter. He's shared videos of his workouts this offseason and shared this nugget on Tuesday -- he posted a career-high hard-contact rate last season. 

Of course, many of those balls were pulled squarely into the shift, resulting in a career-low .260 batting average on balls in play.

It was a year ago that the Tigers bought low on veteran Leonys Martin, then sold high at the trade deadline for shortstop prospect Willi Castro. With Gonzalez, once one of the premier players in the game, they could be thinking something similar.