MILWAUKEE -- Michael Gonzalez finished 2011 with the 96-win Texas Rangers and spent all of 2012 with the 98-win Washington Nationals. He believes he's found another winner in the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers. The left-handed reliever finalized his one-year deal with the Brewers this week and projects to pair with right-hander Jim Henderson as setup men to closer John Axford. "It's a lot of young studs. I definitely like the energy every time I've gone out and played against the Brewers," Gonzalez said. "I've come from, on paper, the best team two years in a row, and I've learned that the best team doesn't always win. You just have to have a team that can get to the playoffs. If you can get to the playoffs, it's anybody's game. I definitely feel Milwaukee has what it takes to get to the playoffs."
Gonzalez has run the gamut during his 10 years in the Majors, beginning in Pittsburgh with teams that averaged 92 losses over his four seasons to more recent postseason stints with the Rangers and Nationals. In 2011, Gonzalez was traded from the Orioles to the Rangers in an Aug. 31 deal and pitched in eight games that postseason, including three in the World Series. The Rangers lost that seven-game Fall Classic to the Cardinals. In 2012, Gonzalez pitched 47 times for the Nationals in the regular season, posting a 3.03 ERA and holding left-handed batters to a .179 average and a .269 slugging percentage. He's one of two Nationals left-handers signed by the Brewers in free agency; Tom Gorzelanny is the other. Each has his own skill set. The Brewers anticipate Gorzelanny working multiple innings, and perhaps making spot starts as needed. His $5.7 million, two-year contract includes incentives for starts. Gonzalez, meanwhile, is more of a late-inning option, insurance against an injury to closer Axford. Gonzalez has 56 career saves, and his $2.25 million, one-year contract includes $400,000 in incentives for games finished. According to The Associated Press, Gonzalez would earn $50,000 for 25 games finished, $75,000 each for 30 and 35 games finished, and $100,000 apiece for 40 and 50 games finished. "The history of both of them, we don't see it changing that dramatically," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "Michael has pitched late in the game, he's been a situational lefty, but he can also probably give you a little more than that because he's closed. I don't see Mike going more than one inning [at a time], but you never know." Gonzalez, who prefers Michael to Mike, insisted that choosing the Brewers was more about fit than about dollar signs. "This late in my career, and having the luxury to choose, is huge," Gonzalez said. "I don't just want to go sign with a team to sign. Once you've been to the World Series, that's where you want to go again. That's the priority -- get on a team that you think has a chance to get to the playoffs. It doesn't have to be the best team, it just has to be a team that can get there."