It’s a whirlwind for a big league player when they get traded. It’s even more of one if a player gets traded twice in a three-day span.
That’s exactly what happened to left-hander Marco Gonzales. Gonzales was dealt by the Seattle Mariners to the Atlanta Braves as part of a five-player trade at the start of last week’s Winter Meetings. A couple of days later, Gonzales was promptly rerouted to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Sunday night was a little bit of a rollercoaster to say the least,” Gonzales said when speaking to members of the media over Zoom. “The couple days afterwards, when we were kind of in limbo just because we knew that we were probably gonna get moved again, I was fortunate that we got moved quickly and we weren’t in that stage for a while. Just so we can kind of get settled and get our feet under us a little bit. It was hectic.”
Gonzales’ in-and-out stint with the Braves didn’t last nearly as long as his tenure with the Mariners. He pitched in Seattle for seven seasons after he was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals leading up to the 2017 trade deadline.
For much of his career with the Mariners, Gonzales, who turns 32 in February, developed into a reliable innings eater in Seattle’s rotation. The southpaw made 151 appearances in a Mariners’ uniform and went 61-47 with a 4.08 ERA.
For the first time since he was 25, Gonzales will experience pitching for a new team in a new city.
“It’s difficult because you get settled into a place and you engrain yourself in the community,” he said. “My wife is from here, born and raised in Seattle and went to school a few hours away at Gonzaga. We do have a solid community of people here that we’re going to miss.”
While it can be hard to say goodbye, the other side of it is that Gonzales has a chance at a brand-new opportunity in Pittsburgh.
“I’m grateful to have an opportunity,” said Gonzales. “I think anytime a team wants you and is excited for you to join the team, I’m very honored, very grateful for that opportunity, and I don’t take it for granted…This is a new chapter, and I think the timing took us a little bit by surprise, but that being said, we’re going to be ready to go for this new chapter. Get to know a new part of the country, get to know new families on the team and I think it can be really good for my career.”
As Gonzales joins the Pirates, he does so with a rotation in flux. Outside of his addition, the only other full-time starting pitcher from last season to join him is Mitch Keller.
Gonzales’ 2023 was cut short after undergoing season-ending surgery on his pitching arm in August. Despite the procedure, Gonzales said he’s had a relatively normal offseason in terms of what he’s been able to do post-operation.
That’s welcomed news for the Pirates, who will rely on Gonzales to get back to his reputation as a durable starter after making only 10 starts with the Mariners last year.
“They want me to start, first and foremost. They’ve made that very clear to me,” Gonzales said. “That’s what I intend to do as well. I’ve been a starter pretty much my entire career and that’s where I think I fit best. I think I go out and set the tone for a team, take the ball every five days, and my goal is to put up at least 190, maybe even 200 innings this year. That’s my goal. Make every start, be healthy and I know that I’m very, very capable of doing that. So that’s I feel like where my best fit is and I hope that they agree with that.”
In 2022, Gonzales totaled 183 innings, the second highest-total of his career. It was in 2019 when Gonzales pitched 203 innings across a major league leading-34 starts.
If Gonzales is able to return to some semblance of that version of himself, that would be just what the doctor ordered for the Pirates.