Reliever Mike Gonzalez appears very popular in the free-agent market. There are loads of bullpen options, but he can set up, he can close and he's left-handed, making him about the most desirable of the lot.When Gonzalez is healthy, he has electric stuff and can be one of the best left handed relief pitchers in baseball. Not only can Gonzalez get out both lefties and righties, but he has a very high strikeout rate, which makes him even more valuable in the late innings.
But moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the market for Gonzalez plays out. Because he made only $3.45 million last season, Gonzalez is a good bet to be offered arbitration by the Braves. That means that whatever team signs Gonzalez would have to give up draft picks in addition to signing Gonzalez to a multi year contract.
How mant teams out there would be willing to do that for a 31 year old left handed pitcher, who is just two years removed from Tommy John Surgery?
The best fit for Gonzalez in the free agent market might be to sign with a team that owns a first round pick somewhere in the range of 1-15. Because of the ridiculous Elias rankings system for free agent compensation, these teams only have to give up a second round pick for signing a Type A free agent.
Once Gonzalez is offered arbitration, that stable of teams will dwindle as teams ponder whether to actually give up a first round pick for Gonzalez. Even though there are lots of teams interested now, I think if Gonzalez wants to land the best deal possible and potential opportunity to close, then he should really consider signing with one of 2009's worst.
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