The Rockies' emotional leader and only holdover player from their 2009 postseason squad had his worst year statistically last season but closed strong, finishing with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs after struggling at the plate early.
The player nicknamed CarGo was hitting .214 in mid-July as he tinkered with his swing before he adjusted his grip on the bat. That, combined with visiting a sleep specialist to seek solutions to cure a bout of insomnia, paid quick dividends, with Gonzalez hitting .325 over August and September with eight of his 14 homers to help lead the Rockies to the postseason for the first time since 2009.
The Rockies had offered Gonzalez, 32, a lucrative four-year deal that was rejected last spring, USA Today reported. Gonzalez was in the final season of a seven-year, $80 million contract and gambled that he'd be able to get a better deal in free agency.
Gonzalez might have to split time with Gerardo Parra in right field. Charlie Blackmon is set in center field and Ian Desmond in left, but CarGo's presence in the locker room has always been one of his biggest draws.
On Monday, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado told the Denver Post, "I think it would be safe to say that everyone here misses him, really badly. Don't get me wrong, I think we have strong group of guys, but we miss CarGo's energy and laughter. I know a lot of guys miss him -- even if they won't voice it -- because we have talked about it since we all got here.
"CarGo kept things light. He was a good balance for guys like me; guys who are kind of serious. I mean, CarGo could be serious, but at the same time, he kept everyone loose."
Talking about the possibility of bringing Gonzalez back, Arenado said, "It would be the greatest thing ever. That would be huge for us. Like I said, I think he's a great player and I still think he can do some damage."
Gonzalez was won three Gold Gloves, was the NL batting champ in 2010, made three All-Star squads and hit a career-high 40 homers in 2015. His numbers for the Rockies, where he has played for nine of his 10 seasons, include a .292 average with 211 homers and 685 RBIs.