The bar has been set, the writing is on the wall and an Adrian Gonzalez trade is inevitable.
The question now isn't whether he will be traded or whether the Padres will get a massive haul of prospects for him, the question is who could sign Gonzalez if they trade for him.
No team is going to trade away 4 or 5 of their top 10 prospects, the future of their franchise, unless they are extremely certain that they can sign Gonzalez to a long term deal.
He has to give them mucho value to offset the loss of the prospects they have to give up to get him and two pennant drives at a cheap price is not enough.
So who can afford Gonzalez long term?
The obvious teams are the Yankees and the Red Sox. Both teams have shown both the financial ability and the predilection to sign players to contracts with huge annual sums & for long terms.
Will they be in the mix for Gonzalez?
The Yankees can be dismissed from the discussion before it even begins.
They already have Gonzalez-lite in Mark Teixeira, a gold glove winning, 40 home run hitting 1B who is under contract for 6 more years after 2010 and $135 million. They really have no pressing need for Gonzalez and the team that signs him will have a pressing need.
So at the top of our list we have the Red Sox. They have the Prospects, the money and a desire to trade for Gonzalez that has been well documented in the media.
The Mets. The Mets are one of the top 2-3 revenue earning ballclubs in baseball. They can certainly afford Gonzalez. They have some intriguing, if not exceptional, prospects they can send back in return for Gonzalez including Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez and Jenrry Mejía. A package built around those 3 with couple of other good prospects that are further away from competing in the major leagues would probably get the job done.
The Cubs. The Cubs are a top 5 team in revenue, have a new ownership group that will be looking to make a splash, and with Derrek Lee being a free agent at the end of the 2010 season, they would certainly be a team that would be in the mix for Gonzalez. The Cubs would have to give up two of a group of 4 players they really have not been willing to part with so far in Starlin Castro or Hak-Ju Lee and Andrew Cashner or Jeff Samardzija.
The Giants. The Giants are a top 10 team in revenue and play in the 6th largest market in baseball. They can afford to maintain a $100 payroll that would be needed to sign a player like Gonzalez. The bigger question is whether they would be willing to part with either Posey or Bumgarner, because other than those 2 guys they really do not have the depth in the top 10 or so prospects to interest the Padres without one of them at the top of the trade package.
The White Sox. Kenny Williams LOVES to make a big splash with his personnel moves. Without including Beckham the White Sox don't have the high ceiling prospects that will be needed to make the trade happen, but that does not mean that Kenny won't just ship off a coveted player like closer Bobby Jenks to a third team to come up with enough to satisfy the Padres asking price.
The Mariners. They have the money, the pitching and the outfield defense, now all they need is a big banger. Gonzalez fits the bill. And the Mariners also have the prospects even without including Ackley. Saunders, Triunfel, Mores and two out of a group including of Noriega, Pineda, Cortes, and Franklin. A definite possiblity there.
The Astros. The Astros? Yes. A $100 million payroll is right in line with their $190 million in revenue. But don't they have Berkman at 1B? Berkman threatened to retire if the Astros dont get an extension signed before this season started so buying out his 2011 option for $2 million and bringing in Gonzalez makes sense. Shift Berkman back to the OF for half a season and make a run at the playoffs this year. Berkman is gone after the season as well as Matsui, Feliz, Myers, and several other veteran bandaids. The Astros top prospect is at a position, catcher, the Padres are hurting for and he is ML ready. Do not count them out of the running.
The biggest surprise on this list?
The Nationals. The Nationals are aching to get some identity as something other than the biggest losers in the game. They have been in the running for several big name FA who chose winning over money in signing elsewhere. They are not going to resign Dunn and several other bad contracts for
Guzman, Taveras and Willingham are coming off the books. They have a catcher near the top of their prospects list and a couple of other good looking prospects in Storen and Espinosa that may interest the Padres. In order to get a trade done without including Strasburg, they may have to include a third team.
Well there it is. If the ration I got from Web is any indication, I am sure there will be many of you who will disagree with me on this. So bring it on! Tell me who you think will be in the running for Gonzalez and why.