Red Sox Land Gonzalez

Steve O Speak

The Deal: The San Diego Padres Trade 1B Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Casey Kelly (AA), 1B Anthony Rizzo (AA), CF Reymond Fuentes (A-), and a PTBNL

Why This Makes Sense for the Red Sox: With a fairly set rotation, Boston is looking at impact bats this offseason and they don’t get much better than Adrian Gonzalez in that department. Gonzalez had a .904 OPS last season, which was brought down by his Petco Park numbers (.821 OPS). Gonzalez should thrive in the American League East, which is full of hitters parks. He is a huge upgrade to the Red Sox lineup, and gives them the middle of the order hitter they have been looking for. Gonzalez is also attractive because he is willing (likely) to sign an extension, which the Red Sox are working out right now. While the Red Sox are trading really for only this one season (extensions are nice, but really don’t save you that much money in the long run, so have little ‘trade value’), but knowing that he is resigning gives the Red Sox and their fans piece of mind. In a way if the Sox hammer out this deal, you can say that Boston already signed one of the top free agents for next season. What further makes this a win for Boston is they didn’t have to include any of their young major league ready talent like Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish or Daniel Bard (among others). While the players they gave up are good, I’d call this a solid win for the Red Sox.

Why this makes sense for San Diego: Now I realize the Padres were one game away from forcing a playoffs and making the postseason last year, but they made the right move (even if their fans disagree). San Diego’s chances of repeated success were pretty slim, and if they held on to Gonzalez they risked the chance of an injury negating any potential deadline deal. While it may upset the fan base it is always better to make these rental deals in the offseason. Not only can you try to sell the ‘extension’ factor as part of the trade value, but it affords you extra money to put into areas to keep the team competitive. While the Padres didn’t land anyone who can help them immediately they did pretty well in this deal.

Kelly is the centerpiece of the trade as he projects as a potential ace down the road. He is still a bit raw and probably needs at least 2 years in the minors before he is major league ready. Ace could be pushing it (though his numbers will look like one in that park), but he is a fairly safe bet to be a good number 2. Rizzo is the eventual replacement for Gonzalez at 1B and in the heart of the order for the Padres and he is one of the better 1B prospects out there. I wouldn’t say he profiles as a first tier 1B (Pujols, Gonzalez, Votto etc.) but he is pretty close. He should be good for at least 25 HR’s a year (would be more if not for his new home park) and should be a solid impact hitter. Rizzo should be ready by opening day 2012, though his debut could be delayed until June of that year. Fuentes, is the furthest away from the majors, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Already he profiles as a frontline defensive center fielder, with the speed to be an elite leadoff hitter. He still needs to work on his on-base skills and add some strength, but he has the profile to be a star. He is at least 3 years away from the majors (could be more), but if he keeps developing he may end up the best piece of this deal for the Padres. The PTBNL isn’t expected to be a significant prospect and it wouldn’t shock me if it is a potential middle reliever (Daniel Turpen would be my guess).

In all I credit the Padres for choosing upside and ceiling over immediate impact, but I think they could have gotten at least one more solid prospect from the Red Sox. Now, I’m not saying the Padres got fleeced, but I think their return is fair at best. Gonzalez headlined the trade market for power hitters, and I thought the Padres could have held out for a bit more.

Winner: I don’t think the Padres lost this deal, but they definitely didn’t win either. The Red Sox on the other hand got one of the best hitters in baseball, while at the same time didn’t give up too much in terms of talent.

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