The Yankees have claimed outfielder Oscar Gonzalez off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians, according to the YES Network’s Jack Curry.
Yankees have claimed OF Oscar Gonzalez off waivers from Cleveland. In 173 at bats last season, his slash line was 214/239/312 with 2 HR and 12 RBI. In his career, he has 13 HR and 55 RBI and a 269/299/413 in 145 games.
— JackCurryYES (@JackCurryYES) December 1, 2023
Gonzalez is 25 and recently came up as a right-handed depth bat in Cleveland in 2022. He showed some playoff heroics twice that season, first with his walk-off homer against the Rays that sent the Guardians to the ALDS. Once there, he hit a walk-off single in Game 3 that gave his team a 2-1 series lead over the Yankees.
Unfortunately for Oscar Gonzalez and the Guardians, the Yankees won Games 4 and 5.
This is a bit of a shocking move. As of right now, there’s no public report that the Guardians did indeed waive Gonzalez intentionally. He signed with them as an international free agent in 2014 and hit .296 with 11 home runs as a rookie in 2022. However, his batting average dipped to .214 last season and he also owns a 21.3% strikeout rate (K%) for his young career.
So, why would the Yankees be interested in Oscar Gonzalez? Statcast has his arm strength in the 97th percentile, but otherwise isn’t a great fielder. His defensive runs saved (DRS) is -8 and his outs above average (OAA) aren’t much better at -12.
Maybe Brian Cashman is willing to look past the metrics and is prioritizing the arm. Perhaps new hitting coach James Rowson sees something in his swing and he can be a righty power bat off the bench. At absolute worst, he plays left field and the Yankees hope for the best.
In the meantime, this is just one move among many expected for New York this offseason. It’s no secret the Bronx Bombers like outfielder Juan Soto and Cashman really likes Japan’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Knowing Cashman, there are more we haven’t even thought of yet.
Until then, we’ll wait until spring training and see what Oscar Gonzalez brings to the table.