Injuries made 2017 essentially a lost season for veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, whose future with the Dodgers remains cloudy at best.
What went right
Gonzalez doubled against the Pirates on Aug. 22 in Pittsburgh, becoming the 285th player in major league history with 2,000 hits.
He homered and doubled against the Padres on Sept. 26, his second game of the season with multiple extra-base hits. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, that was his final game of 2017.
What went wrong
“Everything” might be too easy here, but it was a rough year all around for Gonzalez.
Things started off badly for Gonzalez in spring training, when he was sidelined by an elbow injury that lingered into April. He was eventually sidelined for two weeks in May, the first disabled list stint of his career after averaging 159 games and 154 starts per season from 2006-16.
A herniated disc in his back knocked Gonzalez out again in June, this time missing just over two months.
Gonzalez posted a 69 OPS+ in 252 plate appearances, just the sixth sub-70 OPS+ by a Dodger with at least 250 PA in the last 12 years, and the first Dodgers first baseman with such a season since Moose Skowron in 1963.
Any faint hopes Gonzalez had of making the Dodgers postseason roster — he started only four of 30 games in the season’s final month, and was used as a pinch-hitter only five times — ended when he suffered a flare up of back tightness in the final week of the year.
Setting aside the likelihood of Gonzalez rebounding in either health or performance at age 36, his future in Los Angeles is murky for a pair of reasons. First, the emergence of Cody Bellinger gives the Dodgers their first baseman of the future, though Bellinger’s versatility and athleticism could move him to the outfield for a season if Gonzalez was healthy and productive.
But do the Dodgers want Gonzalez back?
Gonzalez understandably did not travel with the team at the beginning of the postseason, with his back injury not conducive for flying, especially since Gonzalez wasn’t playing anyway.
But he wasn’t at home games supporting the team either, which was odd.
"He didn't really want to be a distraction,” manager Dave Roberts said during the NLCS.
The distraction came during the World Series, after Gonzalez returned from a team-approved trip to Italy and joined the team, at least for a little while. Per Andy McCullough and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times in October:
Gonzalez was not in the dugout once the games began, but his presence still rankled some Dodgers, according to people familiar with the situation. Roberts downplayed that notion, but indicated he spoke with Gonzalez on Saturday in order to avoid a distraction during the final days of the season.
Gonzalez did not participate in pregame workouts or meetings for the final four games of the World Series. In the relationship between Gonzalez and the Dodgers, something seems off, or at least very awkward. Color me skeptical that the relationship has much of a future.
Stats: .242/.287/.355, 3 HR, 17 doubles in 252 PA
Salary: $21.5 million
Game of the year
Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI against the Marlins on May 21. His two-run double in the first inning gave the Dodgers an early lead they would never relinquish in a 6-3 win over Miami.
Gonzalez has one season and $21.5 million remaining on his contract. As a player with at least 10 years of major league service time (he has 12 years, 108 days) and at least five years with his current club, Gonzalez has the right to approve any trade.