FORT MYERS, FLA. – What a shopping spree Derek Falvey went on Monday. He upgraded the Twins defense at the corners, he added power and slick fielding to the middle infield, and he even uncovered another dependable, slugging outfielder to add to their deepest position, one who thrives in Target Field.
And as a cost-saving bonus, all these new weapons can share one uniform.
“I couldn’t be in a better spot than here,” said Marwin Gonzalez, who signed a two-year contract Monday to play all four infield positions when he is not patrolling the outfield or hitting crucial home runs or mowing the grass or sewing the uniforms. No, his $21 million deal doesn’t spell out all of the various responsibilities that he is itching to take on in his new home, but he made it clear he will do anything and everything.
“It is kind of boring for me to be in the same spot every day,” said Gonzalez, who has started more than 60 games at five positions — all the infield spots and left field — in his seven seasons with Houston. “I love what I do.”
So do the Twins, who consider Gonzalez’s talents to be anything but boring. His versatility helped the Astros weather injuries to shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Josh Reddick; shrug off first baseman Yuli Gurriel’s suspension; and shock Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen with a devastating two-out, tying ninth-inning home run in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, perhaps the most momentous blast in Astros history.
But even with that résumé, the Astros allowed the super-utilityman to walk away, and it was a slow slog of an offseason for Gonzalez and agent Scott Boras. The Venezuelan, who turns 30 on March 14, received inquiries but no offers he considered acceptable until after camps opened. He flew to Miami, where other Boras clients were working out and waiting out negotiations, but his anxiety grew.
“I’m not going to lie, it was kind of frustrating. Especially the last week, going on social media and seeing everybody in baseball uniforms, and you’re just working out by yourself,” said Gonzalez, a .345 hitter in 15 career games at Target Field. “But it was worth it.”
Clearly, the Twins thought so too, because they violated their own informal intention of not signing players after camp opened. They tried it last year, when the asking prices for Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn fell too low to pass up. But the last-minute signings and one-year contracts gave the acquisitions a transitory feel, and neither player fit particularly well in the clubhouse or panned out on the field.
This time, though, the signing wasn’t an impulse buy — Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer, and GM Thad Levine had inquired about Gonzalez a few times during the winter, and decided to make another call last week — and Gonzalez isn’t a short-term mercenary, here just to rebuild his value.
“Marwin being here for more than one year was important for us and for him,” said Falvey, who added he doesn’t expect another acquisition for the major league roster this spring. “He wanted to be here. He wanted to be in camp, He wanted to be a part of this. He looked at our roster, much like Nellie [Cruz] did early in the offseason and said: ‘This is a team that can grow. It’s got some good young talent in the room so let’s play the games and see how it shakes out.’ ”
In fact, Gonzalez said, he doesn’t believe he is walking away from a chance to chase another championship. “We have a good chance here to make the playoffs, so I’m not going to miss them,” he said. “Obviously, I’m going to miss my [Astros] teammates. But I’m ready to play here, I’m happy to be here, and I’m ready to go win ballgames and go to the playoffs.”