Gio Gonzalez Rumors

AL East Links: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Jones, Beltran

Two years ago today, the Blue Jays traded Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez to the Mariners for Brandon Morrow. Morrow has pitched to a 4.62 ERA as a starter in his two seasons with Toronto while League became an All-Star closer last season. Here's the latest from the AL East…

  • In an ESPN Insider-only piece, Jim Bowden reports that the Red Sox offered a position player heavy package to the Athletics for Gio Gonzalez before he was traded to the Nationals. Bowden adds that the Blue Jays were only willing to part with risky low-level minor leaguers for the southpaw.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Red Sox's pursuit of both Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey was "very much part of conversation for majority of the time," but they shifted their attention to solely Gio after they learned they were competing with the Nats (Twitter links). The Blue Jays jumped into the bidding late, adds the FOX scribe.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that the Orioles are not shopping Adam Jones, but GM Dan Duquette will listen to offers and make counter proposals. We recently learned that the Orioles wanted Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, and at least two of the Braves' young pitchers in return for their center fielder.
  • The Yankees considered pursuing Carlos Beltran earlier this offseason according to Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record (on Twitter), but ultimately decided against it because of his balky knees. Beltran agreed to a two-year deal with the Cardinals yesterday.
  • MLB.com's Mike Bauman writes that the Red Sox's makeover – from the front office to the manager to the roster – will be heavily scrutinized this season.

Rizzo On Gonzalez, Pitching, Center Field, Bench

The Nationals and Athletics made the Gio Gonzalez trade official today, with Derek Norris, Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, and A.J. Cole going to Oakland as expected. Washington also received Robert Gilliam in the swap. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo discussed the trade and other topics with reporters during a conference call this evening, so let's recap…

  • The two sides started discussing Gonzalez "probably over a month ago," and they first exchanged names just before the winter meetings. Rizzo said he met with the Athletics several times in Dallas, and they increased their efforts to acquire Gio after losing out on Mark Buehrle.
  • "Being left-handed was really a key for us," said the GM, noting that Gonzalez can slot between power righties Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. "[The trade] gives us a young core of starting pitchers at the major league level."
  • "To acquire a player like this you need to give up some painful players in return," said Rizzo. "[It took] four players that are near and dear to our heart … They'll be sorely missed."
  • When asked about Gonzalez's walk rate – career 4.44 BB/9 and an AL worst 4.05 BB/9 in 2011 – Rizzo said "we see his walks trending in the right direction, we see him having general command, and as he progresses into his career, he's going to improve on his command each and every year." Gio has improved his walk rate every year of his big league career, and the team believes the "changing of leagues will positively affect [his] performance."
  • Rizzo said they like Gonzalez's "moxie and attitude on the mound," and noted that they've clocked his fastball as high as 95 mph using the PitchFX system.
  • "We feel we have great depth in the starting rotation," said the GM, noting that Tom Gorzelanny and Craig Stammen can start with Sammy Solis and Alex Meyer representing the next wave of pitching prospects. "We feel that we're still very deep in starting pitchers. We like the talent level of our pitching staff, and it's going to be great competition to see who comes out of [Spring Training] as the starting five."
  • Rizzo confirmed that Solis has not yet visited Dr. Yocum about his sore elbow due to strep throat. Once that clears up, he will have his elbow checked out.
  • "We're always looking to improve our ball club," added Rizzo, who said they will "certainly be aggressive" if the opportunity to acquire a long-term center fielder via trade or free agency presents itself.
  • When asked if Adam LaRoche will be the Nationals first baseman in 2012, Rizzo replied flatly: "That is correct." The Nationals have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Prince Fielder this offseason.
  • "We'd like to improve our bench. We'd like to improve our depth in the minor leagues to help us if need be at the Major League level," said Rizzo when asked what else he'd like to accomplish this offseason.

Rockies Seek Pitching; Kuroda, Saunders Unlikely

The Rockies continue to seek pitching help according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter), but they're unlikely to land either Joe Saunders or Hiroki Kuroda unless their asking prices come way down. Troy Renck of The Denver Post adds (on Twitter) that they did call the Athletics about Gio Gonzalez before he was traded to the Nationals, but they were unwilling to surrender four top prospects for the left-hander.

Colorado acquired Kevin Slowey from the Twins and Tyler Chatwood from the Angels earlier this offseason, who figure to compete with Jhoulys Chacin, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, and Esmil Rogers for rotation spots in Spring Training. Jorge De La Rosa will return from Tommy John surgery at midseason, and Juan Nicasio has recently started throwing bullpen sessions after a batted ball fractured his C-1 vertebrae in August. After spending big on Michael Cuddyer, the Rockies figure to have some spending limitations going forward.



NL East Links: Marlins, Vazquez, Braves, Nationals

Twelve years ago today, the Mets traded Octavio Dotel, Roger Cedeno, and Kyle Kessel to the Astros for Mike Hampton and Derek Bell. Hampton pitched to a 3.14 ERA in 217 2/3 innings during his one season in New York, then signed his monster eight-year, $121MM contract with the Rockies that winter. Here's the latest from continually improving the NL East…


Reaction To The Gio Gonzalez Trade

The Nationals were the winners of the Gio Gonzalez sweepstakes, acquiring the left-hander from the A's today for a package of four well-regarded prospects: A.J. Cole, Tom Milone, Derek Norris and Brad Peacock.  Here's a look at some of the reaction and analysis of this blockbuster trade…

  • The Nats didn't want to give up both Peacock and Milone but eventually acquiesced, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.  Comak points out that the Nats have found themselves with a left-handed starter who is younger and less expensive than their first target this offseason, Mark Buehrle.
  • Washington's recent strong drafts gave the team enough prospect depth to make this deal possible, notes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The Nationals "improved their rotation to the point where they may be a contender," Heyman writes.  
  • "I don’t know how Oakland could have done better,” a scout tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  “They got the right set of names….Quality and depth.”
  • A rival evaluator tells ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter) that Peacock reminds him of former Twins starter Brad Radke.  "I'm not sure that in two years, Peacock will [be] better than Gio," the evaluator said.
  • The A's have made two "brilliant hauls" in their trades of Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, opines MLB.com's Tom Singer (Twitter link).  The A's received Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Cahill and Craig Breslow two weeks ago.
  • ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) is not overly impressed with Gonzalez, believing his success to have been at least in part due to the pitcher-friendly Oakland ballpark and the Athletics' defense.  It seems as if Law considers the trade a win for the A's, calling their return haul "a substantial reward" and praising Cole as the new top prospect in Oakland's system. 

Nationals To Acquire Gio Gonzalez

The Athletics will trade Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals in a deal that further depletes Oakland's pitching staff and adds to Washington's potentially dominant rotation. The deal sends Gonzalez and minor league right-hander Robert Gilliam to Washington in exchange for four highly-regarded young players, including three of the Nationals' top ten prospects: right-handers A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock, left-hander Tom Milone and catcher Derek Norris. ESPN.com's Keith Law broke the news on Twitter, with Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reporting Gilliam's inclusion in the deal.

Gio Gonzalez A's

Gonzalez (pictured) will join Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann atop an impressive-looking Nationals' rotation that also figures to include Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan. Gonzalez, 26, is under team control through 2015. He has reached the 200-inning plateau in each of the past two seasons without posting an ERA above 3.23.

However, no MLB pitcher has walked more opponents than Gonzalez in the past two seasons and he's about to get expensive through arbitration (projected 2012 salary of $4.2MM). While most teams –the Nationals included — can stomach a $4.2MM salary for an established, young left-handed starter, the A's haven't resolved their stadium situation and operate under a more limited payroll.

Without Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, two of the 40 MLB pitchers to throw 200 innings this past season, Oakland's rotation will look considerably different in 2012. Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Tyson Ross and Josh Outman are possible starters for the A's, who entered the offseason with a deeper rotation than most.

Gilliam, 24, was an eighth-round draft pick for the A's in the 2009 draft.  The right-hander has a 4.55 ERA, a 3.07 K/BB ratio and has 270 strikeouts in 287 innings of pro ball, with his highest level of advancement being Class A Stockton last season.

Peacock (#3), Cole (#4) and Norris (#9) all rank among the Nationals' top ten prospects, according to Baseball America's latest rankings. Peacock emerged as "one of the most exciting power arms in the high minors" this year, BA reports. The 23-year-old posted a 2.39 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in the upper minors before getting called up to the Nationals and appearing in three games.

Cole posted a 4.04 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 89 innings at Class A this past season. The 2010 fourth rounder is just 19 years old and stands 6'4". Milone, 24, made his MLB debut this past season, posting a 3.81 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in five starts with the Nationals. He spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he had a 3.22 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 in 148 1/3 innings.

Norris, 22, entered the 2011 season as the 72nd best prospect in the game, according to Baseball America. He responded by posting a .210/.367/.446 line in his first stint at Double-A, adding 20 homers and 77 walks.

Though Nationals GM Mike Rizzo would no doubt have preferred to acquire Gonzalez for lesser prospects, it was clear from the beginning of the offseason that Gonzalez would require a substantial return. The Red Sox, Rangers, Marlins, Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers and Mariners were also linked to Gonzalez this winter. Earlier in the offseason, A's GM Billy Beane obtained minor leaguers Jarrod ParkerCollin Cowgill and Ryan Cook for Cahill and Craig Breslow.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


A’s Talking Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey

3:02pm: Rival executives say the Nationals have the best chance at obtaining Gonzalez and some believe Danny Espinosa or Ian Desmond could be in play, according to Heyman.

2:44pm: The Red Sox are trying to get Gonzalez and Bailey in a "monster deal," tweets Rosenthal. The Rays are also in on Bailey and the Nationals are the team to beat on Gonzalez, Rosenthal reports.

2:20pm: The Red Sox are still discussing both Andrew Bailey and Gonzalez with the Athletics, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox "obviously won't get both," Cafardo writes.

2:14pm: It looks like the Nationals and Red Sox are the finalists for Gonzalez, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets that the Red Sox or Nationals will likely acquire Gonzalez today. Both Heyman and Gammons suggest the Nationals are the favorites to obtain the left-hander.

1:10pm: The A's are moving closer to a Gio Gonzalez trade, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (all links go to Twitter). The bidding is down to two teams, one of which is the Nationals. The Marlins and Red Sox may also be involved, but the Rangers are not. The Yankees and A's never built momentum toward a deal involving Gonzalez, Olney reports. The Mariners had discussed Gonzalez and it's not clear if they're involved in the current trade talks.

The Nationals are believed to be willing to include multiple top prospects for Gonzalez, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Prospects such as Brad PeacockDestin HoodEury Perez and A.J. Cole could be available to the Athletics. Derek Norris is in the discussion, Olney writes.

Gonzalez is under team control through 2015 and has reached the 200-inning plateau in each of the past two seasons without posting an ERA above 3.23. However, no MLB pitcher has walked more opponents in the past two seasons than Gonzalez and he's about to get expensive through arbitration (projected 2012 salary of $4.2MM).


Many Teams In On Roy Oswalt; No Deal Close

Roy Oswalt is believed to have drawn some interest from the Red Sox, Nationals, Marlins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rangers and Twins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. However, Oswalt is waiting for trade candidates such as Gio Gonzalez to be dealt before agreeing to a contract.

Interest in the 34-year-old right-hander spiked with yesterday’s news that he’s looking for a one-year deal. However, the Rangers won the bidding for Yu Darvish and already have a full rotation, so their interest in Oswalt may be fading. The Yankees seem to have prioritized others and the Twins may not be able to afford the Bob Garber client.


Nationals Pushing Hard For Gio Gonzalez

4:48pm: The Nationals are believed to be willing to include multiple top prospects for Gonzalez, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are obviously off-limits, but prospects such as Brad Peacock, Derek Norris, Destin Hood, Eury Perez and A.J. Cole could be available. 

WEDNESDAY, 11:57am: Trying to trade for Gonzalez is the Nationals' top priority, says MLB.com's Bill Ladson. According to Ladson, Brad Peacock and Derek Norris are two of the players the Athletics are looking at in a possible four-for-one deal. Nothing is imminent yet, as the Blue Jays and Red Sox are also "heavily in the mix."

MONDAY, 7:22pm: The Nationals are pushing hard for Gio Gonzalez, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The A's and Nationals are discussing a possible four-for-one deal involving the left-hander. The Marlins, Red Sox and Rangers are also showing strong interest in Gonzalez, according to Rosenthal.

The Nationals, who have Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang in their projected 2012 rotation, are poised to contend before long. The addition of Gonzalez would give manager Davey Johnson someone who has reached the 200 inning plateau in each of the past two season without posting an ERA over 3.23 in that time. However, obtaining him from the A's won't be easy. Gonzalez has many suitors and Oakland's asking price remains high.

MLBTR projects a $4.2MM salary for Gonzalez in 2012, the first of his four seasons as an arbitration eligible player. While most teams –the Nationals included — can stomach a $4.2MM salary for an established, young left-handed starter, the penny-pinching A's won't necessarily be able to afford Gonzalez through 2015 unless they resolve their stadium situation soon.


AL East Notes: Upton, Red Sox, Kuroda, Gio, Bard

The latest news and notes out of the AL East:

  • The Rays have talked about trading B.J. Upton but will likely end up keeping him, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link). While Upton is becoming more expensive, the Rays would have difficulty replacing his offensive and defensive production on the cheap.
  • The Red Sox are "kicking around their preference" between trying to sign Hiroki Kuroda or trade for Gio Gonzalez, writes Yahoo's Tim Brown.
  • WEEI's Alex Speier takes an in-depth look at the process of converting relievers to starters, with a focus on the Red Sox. Speier notes that even though the Sox are preparing Daniel Bard to start, it doesn't necessarily mean the right-hander will end up in the rotation.
  • Baseball America published their choices for the Rays' top ten prospects today, and though there are some surprises, the name atop the list isn't one of them.
  • For a few Orioles items, check out our post from earlier this morning.