Gio Gonzalez Rumors
When the offseason started, we figured it would be headlined by a pair of MVP caliber bats (Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder) and a Japanese import (Yu Darvish). While those three certainly garnered their fair share of attention, the winter was mostly dominated by trades involving young, high-upside pitchers with multiple years of team control remaining.
The Doug Fister trade seemed to get it all started. The Mariners sent him and David Pauley to the Tigers for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, and Chance Ruffin at the trade deadline. Four similar young, high-upside starters with multiple years of contractual control remaining were traded this offseason. Here are those deals, presented chronologically...
- Athletics trade Trevor Cahill (and Craig Breslow) to the Diamondbacks for Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill, and Ryan Cook.
- Padres trade Mat Latos to the Reds for Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, and Brad Boxberger.
- Athletics trade Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals for Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Tom Milone, and Derek Norris.
- Mariners trade Michael Pineda (and Jose Campos) to the Yankees for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
Each trade involved multiple young players going the other way, including at least one top 100 prospect according to Baseball America. Which team got the best return for their young hurler?
The Nationals were linked to free agent slugger Prince Fielder for quite some time but yesterday the 27-year-old agreed to a nine-year, $214MM deal with the Tigers. Here's more on the Nats and other items from around the National League East..
- The Nats were never close to winning the Fielder bidding, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The club only got as far as discussing parameters of a deal, never specifics.
- Gio Gonzalez doesn't have a no-trade clause in his new deal with the Nationals, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Gonzalez agreed to a five-year extension with the club earlier this month.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday that while he believes Domonic Brown would benefit from more sustained playing time in the minor leagues, he'l have a chance to win the leftfield job away from John Mayberry this spring, writes Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- More from Hofmann as he writes that Amaro is even happier with Ryan Howard's five-year, $125MM deal after seeing the contracts signed by Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
- The Phillies looked at Omar Vizquel before he signed with Blue Jays, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Crasnick notes that the club still has Michael Martinez as a utility infielder.
- Washington GM Mike Rizzo says that the club was in the talks for Fielder "until the end," tweets Kilgore.
The second option on Gio Gonzalez's new contract with the Nationals is a vesting one, MLBTR has learned. If the Nationals exercise their $12MM club option for 2017, an option for '18 at the same salary will vest if Gonzalez pitches 180 innings in '17.
Yesterday, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com and Nats Insider tweeted the year-by-year salary breakdown of Gonzalez's five-year, $42MM deal. The contract is the largest ever for a starting pitcher with less than three years of service time.
- Dayan Viciedo says he tried to recruit fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler for the White Sox, tweets Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune. Cespedes appears to be drawing substantial interest from Chicago’s other team.
- The representatives for Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez contacted the Yankees about their DH opening, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff tweets. The Yankees have also been in touch with the representatives for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, though they aren’t inclined to spend big on a DH.
- Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com has the salary breakdown for Gio Gonzalez’s recent five-year, $42MM extension (Twitter link). The Nationals have two $12MM options for 2017 and 2018, Gonzalez’s second and third free agent years.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin said right fielder Corey Hart will be asked if he's willing to play some games at first base, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mat Gamel is the Brewers’ projected first baseman, since Prince Fielder will almost certainly sign elsewhere.
12:49pm: The Nationals and Gio Gonzalez have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension, the team announced. The deal runs through 2016, with club options for 2017 and 2018, and comes less than a month after the Nationals sent four prospects to the Athletics to acquire Gonzalez. The southpaw is an ACES client.
Gonzalez, 26, was eligible for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two this winter. Our projections pegged him for a $4.2MM salary in 2012. The extension will cover all four of Gonzalez's arbitration years plus one free agent year. With the two club options, the Nationals have potentially bought out three of the southpaw's free agent years.
Despite owning the rare distinction of being traded three times before making his big league debut, Gonzalez has emerged as one of the game's best young hurlers in recent years. He's coming off his strongest season to date, having recorded a 3.12 ERA and 8.8 K/9 in 32 starts. Despite leading the league in walks, the lefty earned his first All-Star berth and set a career high with 202 innings pitched.
When we looked at Gonzalez as an extension candidate last April, we mentioned that similar pitchers like Jon Lester, Ricky Romero, and Yovani Gallardo had signed five-year contracts worth approximately $30MM in recent years. Those deals also covered the pitchers' last four years of team control plus one free agent year, however none qualified as a Super Two. Gonzalez figures to command a slightly higher guaranteed salary, and MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith believes $38MM or so is fair (Twitter link).
With Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg under team control through 2015 and 2016, respectively, the top of the Nationals' rotation is set for the next half-decade. The club still has six unsigned arbitration-eligible players as our Arbitration Tracker shows: Tyler Clippard, Jesus Flores, Tom Gorzelanny, John Lannan, Mike Morse, and Zimmermann.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Five years ago today, the Rangers traded John Danks, Nick Masset, and Jacob Rasner for the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano. Danks developed into a rock solid starter for Chicago (and recently agreed to a big extension), but McCarthy battled injuries and pitched to a 4.68 ERA during his four years with Texas. Here's the latest from the AL West...
- In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney says the Athletics never got into deep talks with the Reds about Gio Gonzalez, but they would not have traded the lefty for the four-player package Cincinnati gave up for Mat Latos.
- Within the same piece, Olney wonders if the Athletics will eventually trade Kurt Suzuki after acquiring Derek Norris in the Gonzalez trade. Suzuki is under contract through 2013 for a total of $11.45MM, plus the team holds an $8.5MM club option for 2014. The 28-year-old backstop hit just .237/.301/.385 in 2011, though he's started at least 120 games behind the plate in each of the last four seasons.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports suggests that the Angels trade Mark Trumbo this offseason while his value is high (all Twitter links). Enough teams need a power bat that there will be a market for him, and Morosi speculates about a fit between the Halos and Indians. He notes that the Angels are looking for bullpen help, and the Tribe have some arms to spare.
- Some Athletics people were hoping the Rangers didn't win the bidding for Yu Darvish because they felt Texas could offer more for Gonzalez than what they got from the Nationals according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times hears that the Mariners will declare a $6.75MM operating loss in 2011, the second largest of the Safeco Field era behind 2008 (Twitter link). Baker says the team has past surplus revenue to cover the loss.
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.
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.
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.
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...
- The Marlins were willing to part with top minor leaguers to acquire Gio Gonzalez, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says they weren't willing to move anyone from their everyday lineup. Both Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are considered "off limits."
- Within the same piece, Frisaro says that Javier Vazquez continues to maintain that he is retiring. The Marlins do not expect him back and are looking elsewhere for pitching.
- In a comment on one of his blog posts, Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains why the Braves have less money to spend this winter than many believe.
- Baseball people keep waiting for Nationals GM Mike Rizzo to "bail out" Scott Boras on one of his free agents according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Unsigned Boras clients include Prince Fielder, Edwin Jackson, Johnny Damon, Carlos Pena, and Ryan Madson.
- Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider takes a look at the far-reaching implications of yesterday's Gonzalez trade for the Nationals.
- Amanda Comack of The Washington Times tries to sort out the Nationals pitching staff following the Gio trade.