DALLAS -- The Brewers filled the most glaring hole on their roster before boarding a flight home from the Winter Meetings on Thursday, when they agreed to terms with shortstop Alex Gonzalez on a one-year contract that reportedly includes a vesting option for 2013.Following a physical examination, the team made the signing official on Monday.
"Alex brings to our ballclub a veteran presence who has experienced winning in the postseason," general manager Doug Melvin said. "He is a plus defender who will be a welcome addition to our infield."
Gonzalez has played at least 110 games in eight of the past nine seasons -- he sat out 2008 because of a family issue -- and is considered a plus defensive player. He was with the Braves in '11, hitting .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs. Offensively, he is similar to his predecessor, Yuniesky Betancourt, who remained in play with the Brewers even after they paid $2 million to buy out a club option.
Betancourt was weighing several options, including playing second base, agent Jaime Torres said this week. The Brewers also were in contact with Rafael Furcal, but he wanted a two-year deal. So they opted to make an offer to Gonzalez, and he accepted.Milwaukee's system is thin at shortstop, and Melvin will probably also have to acquire a capable backup this winter. Gonzalez (.270 on-base percentage) and Betancourt (.271) had the lowest on-base percentage of qualifying National League hitters. In the end, the Brewers valued his defense for an infield that at the moment includes average to below-average defenders at second base (Rickie Weeks) and third base (Casey McGehee) and a first baseman in Mat Gamel, who only converted to that position last season. Gamel is the most likely replacement should free agent Prince Fielder sign elsewhere. Gonzalez, who will be 35 by Opening Day, will be the Brewers' fourth different starting shortstop in as many seasons.