Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Adrian Gonzalez
October 29, 2009 11 Comments
It seems that an Adrian Gonzalez trade is drumming up the most excitement in Red Sox Nation so far, so let’s formulate an off-season plan revolving around acquiring him from Jed Hoyer’s Padres. Hoyer has noted that a contract extension with Gonzalez is “definitely on the docket”, and he would like to keep him playing for his native San Diego; however with A-Gonz in line for a major free agent deal after 2011, it makes you wonder if the Padres and their $40M payroll will be able to hang on to him much longer (former Padres GM Kevin Towers agrees). Okay, so here’s fantasy off-season plan A (for Adrian):
Step 1: Trade Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish and Stolmy Pimental to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez (+$5M)
The Padres’ system is still lacking in high-level talent, and is in dire need of an influx of high-potential guys; and Hoyer himself has noted that Gonzalez’s swing would be a very good fit for Fenway Park, so this could be a win-win situation if the price is right. Two years of an elite hitter for around $10M is a steal of a contract, so it will cost quite a bit to force the issue with Hoyer. But the Padres need pitching, Hoyer knows what the Sox have in their farm system, and he’ll demand premium players. On the flip side, he might remain more bullish than other GMs on players like Lars Anderson, who struggled last year.
Doing this deal would wipe away four of our top 10 prospects in one shot. It would leave a big hole in our rotation for 2010, as well as really deal a hit to our starting pitching depth, but it leaves Junichi Tazawa and Casey Kelly in the starter pipeline and Josh Reddick and Ryan Westmoreland as outfield prospects.
How can we reduce the price? I think it’s likely that we could include money in the deal, in the form of starter Chris Young’s contract. He’s signed for one more year at $6.5M with a $8M option for 2011, a very doable deal for us. Young has been an injury-prone pitcher, and hasn’t come close to the potential he flashed back in 2007. He’s still young and intriguing enough that we might take him on. It’s also possible Hoyer could accept Casey Kotchman back in the deal, as veteran insurance for slugger Kyle Blanks. Doing one or both of these could reduce the asking price by one upper prospect.
Step 2: Sign Matt Holliday or Johnny Damon to play LF (+$18M/$12M)
I’m sorry, but I just can not pay Jason Bay what he wants to continue to imitate mold in left field. He had a great year and a half, but I just can’t see him maintaining that level of production. Theo Epstein should try to get something done with Holliday, but move on quickly if Scott Boras pulls his usual delay tactics. Damon has aged gracefully at the plate, and was actually pretty good in left field for two seasons according to UZR, but suffered a very poor year there in 2009. Bringing him back to Fenway would be an interesting move, and perhaps he could learn Jacoby Ellsbury a thing or two about playing center. Failing both of these options, I’d be open to Bobby Abreu (high OBP) in left field or Mike Cameron in center for one year, with Ellsbury shifting to left (you gotta replace that power somehow).
Step 3: Sign 2-3 free agent starting pitchers (+$12-15M)
With Buchholz and Bowden gone, you’re gonna need 2-3 starters. If you’ve blown your wad with Holliday in step 2, you’re not left with much to play with (ie. no money to sign John Lackey). I’m in favor of one mid-level guy and then signing more reclamation projects like Rich Harden, Ben Sheets and Erik Bedard to fill the gaps. Kelvim Escobar and Justin Duchscherer may be out there as well, and warrant a look.
Step 4: Sign 2 free agent relief pitchers (+$5M)
Re-up Hideki Okajima, then bolster like this. I love me some Kiko Calero (Type B free agent), and I hereby officially advocate signing him. Some of the interesting LOOGY candidates out there this off-season include Mike Gonzalez (Type A), Will Ohman (Type B), Darren Oliver (Type A) and John Grabow (Type A).
Step 5: Deal Casey Kotchman and Mike Lowell (-$8M)
If you thought we had a logjam at C/1B/3B/DH before, now you’re looking at LA traffic on July 4th. You aren’t going to get a whole lot back for them, but both of these guys deserve a chance to play everyday. We’d need to dump their salaries anyway, after all the moves we’re talking about here.
Step 6: Sign Adam Everett or Alex Gonzalez as Jed Lowrie insurance (+$4M)
Decline Gonzalez’s option, and sign one of these guys on a one-year deal. Let Lowrie compete and win the spot if he can; we fully expect to be looking for another shortstop next year anyway, right?
Now that is a pretty deep lineup, and will put up runs with the best of them. The rotation will need a lot of luck and help from below, but otherwise that team would be hard to deal with for anyone. These moves would increase the payroll quite a bit, but also set some cornerstone pieces for rebuilding after the 2010 season, when several players reach free agency together. Thoughts?