Washington Nationals: Gio Gonzalez wants to stay
By Ron Juckett
The Washington Nationals pitcher potentially hits free agency this year. Gio Gonzalez wants and deserves an extension. Here is why.
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez wants to stay in town after this season. The veteran who will be a free agent when 2018 ends, expressed his desires to MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:
"“I’ve been here for seven years. To me, this is home. That being said, I have to do my part.”"
In 2017, Gonzalez did.
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With a 15-9 record, Gonzalez rediscovered his old form. For the first time since his 20-win season in 2012, his ERA dipped below 3.00 at 2.96. His 1.179 WHIP a career high and his 201 innings his best total since 2011.
Traded from the Oakland Athletics as part of a massive six-player deal after the 2011 campaign—A.J. Cole and Tommy Milone were part of the package headed west—Gonzalez cemented himself as a mainstay in the Nats rotation.
Durable and reliable, Gonzalez has never had a losing record in six Washington seasons and made a minimum of 27 starts a year. His results vary, but the Nats got what they paid for.
Now, nearing the end of a seven-year deal worth $65.5 million, Gonzalez is a potential free agent. If no extension gets reach, he will hit the open market for the first time. A daunting option for a pitcher at 33. If you are wondering, he is represented by ACES.
Another solid year with a sub-4.00 ERA should do the trick if Washington wants to extend him. A healthy Joe Ross for 2019 pinches the rotation some if Cole settles in at the five-spot. But, a short-term deal offers both sides insurance.
At $12 million this year, he is on the cheaper end of the scale for mid-rotation starters. But, with Tanner Roark carrying two years of team control and Erick Fedde improving, there is no guaranteed place for Gonzalez past this season.
Injuries to the staff may change the equation before October comes. Gonzalez, who finished sixth in the National League Cy Young voting last season, may sustain his form and place Washington in a tough spot. Another year like 2017 gives him leverage.
It is also important Gonzalez wants to stay. Not only for future free agents who look at Washington as a landing spot, but for other Nats too. It tells the baseball world how strong of an organization DC has.
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Although there are nights when Gonzalez struggles with command, the Nats are a better team with him. A strong start this year should draw extension talks. A move that is prudent.