Yankees’ gambit on Victor Gonzalez to leave a lasting impact in the Bronx
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The New York Yankees, following their winter spree for outfield stars, quietly strengthened their bullpen on December 11th by acquiring left-handed reliever Victor González from the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he may not grab headlines like Juan Soto or Trent Grisham, Victor Gonzalez could emerge as a crucial piece for the Yankees in 2024 and beyond.
The 28-year-old Mexican native boasts a promising 3.22 ERA over 93 career appearances, all with the Dodgers. Although his 4.01 ERA in 34 games this past season may raise questions, it’s crucial to remember his comeback from elbow surgery kept him sidelined in 2022. Victor Gonzalez burst onto the scene in 2020, sporting a dazzling 1.33 ERA in his first 15 MLB games and contributing to the Dodgers’ World Series victory that year.
However, Victor Gonzalez’s inconsistency remains a concern. While he logged a career-high 44 appearances and a decent 3.57 ERA in 2021, weight struggles reportedly affected his performance. He has pledged to be more vigilant about his diet in New York, a positive step for a player aiming for consistency.
Victor Gonzalez can swing the Yankees
Despite being labeled the Yankees’ top lefty reliever (with Wandy Peralta still a free agent), Victor Gonzalez curiously fared better against righties in 2023 (.191 BA) than lefties (.259 BA). He boasts a career .209 average against lefties, suggesting his reverse splits could be temporary. Regardless, the Yankees already possess two effective righty relievers in Tommy Kahnle and Ron Marinaccio, making Victor Gonzalez a valuable complement against both sides of the plate.
His arsenal revolves around a groundball-inducing sinker and slider combo, occasionally mixed with a changeup. Victor Gonzalez’s career 58.1% groundball rate highlights his effectiveness in keeping the ball on the ground. However, his vulnerability under pressure remains a concern. His career .241 average allowed in high-leverage situations suggests room for improvement in clutch moments.
While Peralta arguably outperformed Victor Gonzalez in pressure situations last year, the former has a steeper price tag. His projected $1 million arbitration salary and contract running until 2027 provide significant financial advantages for the Yankees.
The Yankees’ ability to discover hidden gems within the reliever market is well-documented. Peralta and closer Clay Holmes arrived in New York with similar potential and blossomed into key contributors. The hope is that Victor Gonzalez can follow the same path, adding much-needed stability to the Yankees’ bullpen.
In conclusion, the acquisition of Victor González might not have garnered the same attention as the Yankees’ other offseason moves, but it carries significant potential for the team’s future. His talent, coupled with the Yankees’ proven ability to develop late-bloomers, offers an intriguing prospect for success in the bullpen. Whether Victor Gonzalez can overcome his inconsistencies and thrive under pressure remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the New York Yankees have added a player with the potential to make a real impact.
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