Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Adrian Gonzalez

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?


Name Pos Rotation Bullpen
Pedroia 2B Lester Papelbon
Martinez C Beckett Okajima
Youkilis 3B Matsuzaka Bard
Gonzalez 1B Wakefield Ramirez
Drew RF Harden/Sheets Calero
Holliday/Damon LF Escobar/Duch LOOGY
Ortiz DH Tazawa
Ellsbury CF Kelly
Everett/Gonzalez SS

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?


11 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Adrian Gonzalez

  1. Jeff Carini says:

    What teams will have interest in Lowell? The Angels may make some sense, if they don’t re-sign Figgins. I would think you’d be looking at an AL team since Lowell will have to be a part time DH.

    I like Gonzalez and Holliday in the middle of the line-up but I think the starting pitching will suffer relying on Matsuzaka, Wakefield and a project or two. I do like the idea of signing a Harden, Sheets or Bedard, but how heavilly can they be relied upon?

    If Theo decides to re-sign Bay or sign Holliday, then I think it’s more likely he’ll trade Buccholz in a deal for Halladay or another starting pitcher (King Felix) rather than dealing for Gonzalez. I would prefer trading for Gonzalez due to his age and signing Abreu to play left for a couple of years.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    AL teams potentially needing a 3B this off-season include the Angels, Mariners, Twins and Orioles. One of them could be persuaded to take Lowell (we might have to throw in some cash too).

    I agree, this scenario would leave us quite weak in the rotation, which is why I’m not so sure this is the right move. As you suggested, we could sign Lackey as the big FA and then go with a stopgap in left field; however those options are not so inspiring. Maybe adding A-Gonz would be enough to buoy the offense though.

  3. Pat says:

    There’s a few things I like about this scenario.

    With Lester, Matsuzaka, and potentially Beckett, we have a good core of starters going forward, and can afford to take chances on what seems like a never ending surplus of reclamation type pitchers for the back of the rotation. Which could hold us up until prospects take their place. I’m saying this because dealing Buchholz is a big hit in the future of the rotation.

    Also, the lineup looks just plain nasty. I like Holliday in left, and I totally agree that Bay needs to go. I couldn’t imagine that team bowing out as quietly as the Sox did this year.

    There’s more things I don’t like about this.

    I see Buchholz as a fixture in our rotation going forward. He’s very cheap, and potentially very good. Keeping him gives us the option to not re-sign Beckett if we don’t see eye to eye on a contract. Lester, Buchholz, and Matsuzaka is an excellent core going forward.

    Adrian Gonzalez is a free agent in two years! If I’m trading the farm for a player, I want to keep him for 4 years if I could.

    There is, like you said, a log jam at the corners. I think Lowell can still play well, and then we have V-mart and Kotchman who can both play first. I think we should deal one of Lowell or Kotchman. Probably Casey, because we have 3 players who can play a good first right now, and he would probably be more valuable in a trade.

    Besides step 1 and step 5, I like this plan.

    • redsoxtalk says:

      Pat, point taken about the rotation, which is why I’m not crazy about this option. Emptying out this many of our top prospects means relying on free agency for the near future, and we all know how that worked out for the Yankees this century. We could be looking at a tremendously expensive rotation after 2010, whether we re-sign Beckett or bring in another free agent.

      LF worries me in this scenario, because there’s no guarantee the Sox can expand the payroll by this much. You could very well be looking at a league-average bat in left for 2009, or worse. Also, trading Lowell would be selling low (as in not getting anything back), so I’m not thrilled by that, either. He’s worth far more to the Sox by playing out the last year of his deal (assuming his hip is okay).

  4. Jeff Carini says:

    How about trading Lowell and cash to the Twins for Delmon Young? The Twins may look to move Young with Cuddyer, Gomez and Span in the outfield. Young has not lived up to his potential yet, but had a very promising September and is only 24 years old. Sure, he’s not a high OBP guy, but this is probably something that will come with more experience.

    Just looking at some other options for left field outside of signing Bay, Holliday, Abreu, Damon, ect.

    In this scenario, they’d certainly have to trade for Gonzalez and move Youkilis to third. They’d also still have the money to sign John Lackey to a long term deal. They could then re-sign Alex Gonzalez or trade for JJ Hardy.

    CF Ellsbury
    2B Pedroia
    CA Martinez
    1B Gonzalez
    3B Youkilis
    DH Ortiz
    SS Hardy
    LF Drew
    RF Young

  5. Tim Wright says:

    I think getting rid of Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish and Stolmy Pimental would be a mistake. I know Bowden didn’t do all that well this year, but he’s still really young and a great prospect.

    The rotation in a couple years could look something like:

    Matsuzaka (not sure when his contract is up)

    I really like the prospect of that rotation, and putting Beckett in a the potential 1 or 2 (if they resign him at that point) makes it look great. And then we can potentially have Bard/Papelbon in the 8th/9th.

    My2cents on the 3B issue:
    There are a lot of things that can happen here, but Lowell and Ortiz are still until contract through next season so shifting guys around could be a little weird (like it was this year).

    Since Youkilis is a gold glove first baseman, really think he should stay over at first (at least until the verdict is in on Lars Anderson) and we should focus on either a 3B/DH type of person or a SS with a good bat and move Lowrie over to third.

    As for LF:
    I liked what I saw from Reddick this year, btu I don’t think he’s totally ready to start full time. He’s quick, he’s got a good glove and he’s got that full body swing that guys like perdoia and garciaparra have (that I love). I’d like to see a solid LFer signed short term with the intention to coach up Reddick so he can take over full time in late 2010/2011. Maybe even resigning Baldelli to split time with Reddick in LF would be OK for a while.

    I don’t have all of LF figured out, but I in my opinion, signing anyone out there to more than a 3 yr deal would be a very expensive mistake.

    Obviously I prefer to use out farm system, but I think we have some great players down there.

    Anywho, those are my thoughts on the matter. I don’t know if it’ll bring Boston to the WS next year, but I think it can rejuvenate the team to use some of their homegrown talent

    • Jeff Carini says:

      I think Reddick could use a full year at AAA, but I do like what I’ve seen from him. I agree that signing any of the free agent left fielders to more than a 3 year deal would be a mistake. They’re better off signing someone like Abreu for 2 years. He could move to DH in 2011 when Reddick should be ready to take over in left.

  6. Pingback: Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Felix Hernandez « Red Sox Talk

  7. Jeff Carini says:

    What would be the problem with Abreu as a DH for a season? Obviously he could still play some outfield, however his defense has steadilly declined the last few years so DH would seem to make sense and Lowell and Ortiz will be gone in 2011. Maybe he’s not the typical power hitting DH that we’ve been used to with Papi, but he can be equally if not more productive with his .400+ OBP and 100+ rbi. Not sure how this would be a bad thing.

  8. redsoxtalk says:

    Just for fun, what my projections predict that Adrian Gonzalez might hit in Fenway, if he did make his way here in 2010:
    .280/.379/.528 with 39 doubles, 36 HR and 105 RBI in 692 PA. That’s a .399 wOBA and +41.77 wRAA, folks.

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