Gonzalez departure not surprising

November, 26, 2009

If you read between the lines of Terry Francona's recent comments on sports radio WEEI on Alex Gonzalez, it shouldn't have come as a complete surprise that Gonzalez came to terms on a one-year, $2.75 million contract to play for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.

Gonzalez finished the '09 season as Red Sox shortstop after coming from Cincinnati in a mid-August waiver trade, and while he was an obvious defensive upgrade over Nick Green and a sore-wristed Jed Lowrie, the Sox did not exercise the $6 million option they held on his contract for the 2010 season. And though general manager Theo Epstein said the Sox were open to bringing back Gonzalez at a reduced rate, Francona made a pointed reference to Gonzalez's low on-base percentage as a factor in deciding whether he would be back.

Gonzalez had a .316 on-base percentage in 44 games with the Red Sox in 2009, but his career OBP is .294 and in his first go-round with the Red Sox, in 2006, he had an OBP of .299.

Lowrie's status for next season remains uncertain because of his wrist, and Epstein has stated that getting a shortstop is a priority this winter. Marco Scutaro (.282/.379/.409) is the most appealing option in a thin free-agent class, and with the Blue Jays having signed Gonzalez, it would seem highly unlikely that the Jays plan to offer Scutaro salary arbitration, meaning the Sox could sign him without losing draft choices.

Gonzalez's new deal was first reported by FoxSports.com.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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