Milwaukee’s search for a shortstop is apparently over, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers are close to signing Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2013.
That takes the Brewers completely out of the mix for Jimmy Rollins, who seemingly is now choosing between re-signing with the Phillies and replacing Rafael Furcal with the Cardinals.
As for Gonzalez … he’s 35 years old and coming off a terrible season at the plate, but when you just finished watching Yuniesky Betancourt for an entire season just about anything probably seems like a big shortstop upgrade.
Gonzalez is actually one of two active hitters with 3,500 plate appearances and a worse career on-base percentage than Betancourt, with the major difference being that his defense has been good enough to live with the extreme out-making most years. That may no longer be true at age 35–his defensive numbers slipped significantly–and despite smacking 15 homers Gonzalez was brutal at the plate this season, hitting .241 with a .642 OPS and 126 strikeouts versus just 22 walks in 149 games.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.