Mar 13, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Alex Gonzalez (36) against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
So that whole “we’re comfortable with our internal options at shortstop” bit? Yeah, that was a complete lie, apparently. After acquiring Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angles at the end of last week, it has been reported that the Detroit Tigers have today traded utility man Steve Lombardozzi to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is 37 years old, so he would appear to be nothing but a one-year stopgap, but he has rated well defensively in his career at the shortstop position by both DRS and UZR. That could all be changing with his advancing age (his last two seasons have been limited due to injury), but he looks to be at least not a negative in the field.
Offensively, Gonzalez has been up and down, but the projection systems seem to be mostly predicting “down” for him in 2014. Steamer projects a .616 OPS and ZiPS a .590 OPS. He’s displayed some good power in his career (his career ISO is .150), but he struggles to get on base with regularity (.290 for his career, ouch). He doesn’t tend to walk much (under 5% for his career), and strikes out just about at the league average rate (19% career).
It remains to be seen whether the Tigers plan to install him as their everyday shortstop, or if they plan to use him in some sort of platoon with Romine or Danny Worth.
Steve Lombardozzi was acquired in the Doug Fister trade, so his time with the Tigers ends without so much as a regular season appearance. We hardly knew ye.
Lombardozzi appeared to be nothing special: a utility man plain and pure, but he had some team control remaining, the ability to play multiple positions, and maybe some ability to hit decently well for a player in that role (though nothing to get excited about).
My initial reaction is to chalk this move up as a curious one. There’s no reason to believe that Gonzalez will necessarily out-hit Worth, Romine, Suarez, or Perez, and there’s reason to be concerned about his age and ability to stay healthy. Giving up Lombardozzi isn’t much of a price, but I’m not sure that adding Gonzalez makes the team better. Perhaps there’s potential for offensive upside that none of the other have, but we may not see that come to fruition.