Cincinnati Reds: Mike Gonzalez Is Not the Answer for Bullpen

Dan Allen@@DanVAllenCorrespondent IIMarch 28, 2012

News out of the Cincinnati Reds spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona is that reliever Mike Gonzalez recently worked out for team officials, according to Mark Sheldon of mlb.com.

Gonzalez, who turns 34 in May, last pitched for the Texas Rangers in 2011. Between Texas and the Baltimore Orioles, Gonzalez posted a 2-2 record, with a 4.39 ERA in just over 53 innings pitched last season.

Texas acquired the lefty reliever in August from Baltimore as part of their playoff push. Gonzalez was brought in to help with the back-end of the bullpen, but performed poorly in his short regular season stint in Texas, posting a 5.14 ERA in seven innings pitched.

Gonzalez also saw some time on the mound in the postseason, pitching 4.1 innings and giving up two runs in parts of eight games. Texas was unimpressed with his performance and didn't offer a contract until early March in the form of a minor league contract.

In 2010, Gonzalez posted a 4.01 ERA in an injury-shortened season with Baltimore. He finished the season with a 1-3 record, and only 24.2 innings pitched.

Cincinnati is presumably looking at Gonzalez as either a setup man or closer after the injury to closer Ryan Madson, with Sean Marshall assuming which ever role Gonzalez leaves empty.

Several teams other than Cincinnati reportedly have interest in signing Gonzalez, rumored to include the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, according to Mike Axisa of MLBTradeRumors.com.

After Gonzalez recently turned down Texas' minor league contract offer, it is likely he will only sign a major league contract.

Signing Gonzalez to a major league contract would be an unnecessary risk for Cincinnati. Gonzalez would join a group of lefty relievers that already includes Marshall and Bill Bray. The status of Cuban fire-baller Aroldis Chapman is unknown at this point, but he may also be moved to the bullpen after the injury to Madson.

Gonzalez' injury history is worrying for a reliever of his age.

It would be foolish to offer a major league contract to a player who hasn't been healthy or effective since 2009 when there are other options out there for Cincinnati.

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