Last year Carlos Gonzalez emerged as one of the biggest bats for not only the Colorado Rockies but for all of baseball and on Tuesday he was rewarded with a seven-year, $80 million contract baring he passes a team physical.
The 25-year-old Gonzalez won the National League batting title with a .336 average last season and he finished third in the NL Most Valuable Player voting, trailing only Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. In addition to his average, Gonzalez also hit 34 home runs and knocked in 117 RBIs. It helped him earn the nickname “CarGo” early on this season.
When the extension becomes official, it would cover him through 2017, or his first three years of free agency. Gonzalez has been involved in two major trades in his young career. In 2007, he was part of a deal that landed Dan Haren in Arizona and sent him to Oakland and then less than a year later, he was sent to Colorado, along with closer Huston Street and left-hander Greg Smith, for All-Star Matt Holliday. He has settled in nicely with the Rockies and seems excited about the extension.
“It’s not at all finalized. But everything is practically concluded. All that’s left are the physical evaluations,” Gonzalez told Meridiano Television in Venezuela. “It’s a blessing for me to have this contract at such a young age.”
Gonzalez liked the challenge of playing in the shadow of Holliday after the trade and it helped keep him motivated. Despite a poor start in 2009, he was a big key to the Rockies postseason berth that season.
Gonzalez is the latest young member of the Rockies to get a big deal from the franchise. Less than two months ago the Rockies locked up their franchise player, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a guarenteed $157 million over the next ten seasons. It means that “Tulo” as he is called by the locals, will provide Gonzalez protection for many seasons to come.
The Rockies could now be the favorites to win the NL West this season, as they have locked up their two big bats, along with pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, while the only other team to make a small splash in the free agent market was the Sand Diego Padres who signed Brad Hawpe this week. That is a long time away however and right now their focus is the start of spring training in mid February.