Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora no longer needs to speak in hypotheticals when it comes to utility man Marwin Gonzalez.
The club announced Wednesday that it officially has signed Gonzalez to a one-year contract for the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
The Red Sox designated pitcher Marcus Walden for assignment to make room for Gonzalez on the 40-man roster.
Gonzalez is familiar with Cora from their time together with the Houston Astros. The infielder/outfielder spent his first seven seasons with Houston before joining the Minnesota Twins for the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
Gonzalez’s production has dipped over the last few years, culminating in 2020 where he batted .211 with five home runs, 22 RBIs and a .606 OPS in 199 plate appearances. But he was a key component of the Astros’ 2017 World Series-winning squad, hitting .303 with 23 homers, 90 RBIs and a .907 OPS in 515 plate appearances that year.
Gonzalez, who turns 32 on March 14, brings valuable defensive versatility to the Red Sox, having played every position except pitcher and catcher in his major league career. The Red Sox essentially have two super utility options after also adding Kike Hernandez in the offseason.
While Hernandez figures to be Boston’s primary second baseman, with some outfield playing time sprinkled in, Gonzalez’s role is even less defined right now.
Gonzalez, a switch-hitter, could split first-base duties with rookie Bobby Dalbec in addition to spelling Franchy Cordero and/or Hunter Renfroe in the outfield. He also could play second base when Hernandez bounces out to the grass. Cora definitely has options.
All told, Gonzalez could prove to be another sneaky good pickup for the Red Sox as they look to rebound from a last-place finish in the American League East. Boston’s roster isn’t without its flaws, but it’s definitely deeper than it was when the offseason began.
Walden, 32, has spent four seasons in the Red Sox organization after signing with the club as a minor league free agent in December 2016. The right-hander made 15 relief appearances last season and posted a 9.45 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.