Should Padres trade Gonzalez? If so When?
I think the following post on a Padres message board expresses the sentiment of most fans and media around the league.
"The idea is that the Padres must trade Adrian Gonzalez. They can't afford him and trading Adrian would make the Padres a better team compared to signing him long term."I don't think that was ever in question. Eventually the Padres will have to trade Gonzalez.
Small market teams like the Padres simply cannot afford to hold on to any individual player that could make $20-22.5 million per season and that would take up 30++% of their total payroll.
In fact, no team can carry a single player that takes up that much of their payroll regardless of the size of the payroll. A team like the Yankees could no more afford a single player that made $60-65 million per year on their $200 million payroll than the Padres can afford a $20-22.5 million player on the $70 million payroll Moorad is promising is on the way for this team. For that matter a team with a $40 million per year payroll, like the Padres will have in 2010, can't afford to carry a $13-15 million player either.
I don't think there is any question Adrian Gonzalez is a valuable player and will bring a great value to any team that trades for him. Adrian Gonzalez is among the Top 10 hitters in baseball today, an exceptional fielder at his position, and is still in his prime at 27. The Padres should garner a bevy of great players in return when he is traded.
The question is when will Adrian Gonzalez bring the Padres the greatest return?
In the Media and the Blogosphere they are talking about a trade that could reportedly bring the Padres 4-5 top prospects in return for Adrian Gonzalez if they were to trade him this offseason.
To me it seems logical that at the trading deadline contending teams would give more in return for a push to the playoffs than during the off season when there are many more players available to fill positions of need to that team.
The likely hood is the Padres will not be in contention at the All Star break in 2010 so a trade of Gonzalez would not be depriving them of a spot in the playoffs and they could then load up on players to help the team contend in 2011 and beyond.
If the Padres are still in contention come the All Star Break in 2010, then they hold on to Gonzalez until the end of 2010.
His value will be slightly diminished, but will still be exceptional both in terms of return on the trade and in his 2010 production at bat and in the field.
One year of .280-300/.400/.550/1.000 with 40+ home runs (Gonzalez would likely hit closer to 50 in Fenway) is worth a lot more than the $5.5 million Gonzalez will make in 2011. Fangraphs had Gonzalez WAR at 6.3 for 2009 which equates to about $28.4 million on the free agent market.
There will undoubtedly will still be teams lining up and salivating at the thought of having player of that caliber playing 1B and hitting in the middle of the lineup for them in the off season after the 2010 season. We are still talking about a deal that would probably include 3 of the top ten prospects in any teams system and probably either another prospect or a young ML player.
Past that point his value diminishes greatly. You cannot expect to get a 4-5 for 1 deal that includes only top10 prospects at the 2011 Trading Deadline. The Padres have much less leverage when you are talking about just 2 months and the playoffs, but even a 3 month rental of Adrian is worth some good prospects in return since at bat like Adrian's in the middle of the lineup could turn a good team into one that can make a deep run in the playoffs.
If you don't think the Red Sox would still give up a top prospect like Kelly or Westmoreland for Gonzales to give them a shot at beating the Yankees and going to the World Series in 2011, you are not paying attention. NO prospect is as valuable as a World Series ring.
I guess you could say that no matter when the Padres trade Gonzalez they are going to either have earned incredible return on him by having that much production from so inexpensive of a contract on a contending team or they will get a tremendous haul of prospects for him in trade that will help rebuild the team.