Why And When The Red Sox Will Acquire Adrian Gonzalez

Ever since I was brought on as a Red Sox hot stove contributor for Over The Monster, I knew this subject was going to come up sooner or later, so might as well finally talk about the guy we have been asking for for about two years now: Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

The 2010 Red Sox Roster was on paper designed to be a very a good defensive ball club with just enough offense in the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, and David Ortiz to carry the club.

Only one of the group I just mentioned was able to stay healthy the entire season (Ortiz) as all of the rest spent over three weeks to the rest of the season (since the time they were injured) on the disabled list.  Even with the 2010 outburst of Adrian Beltre, Theo's plan failed.

Not to mention that the Red Sox' "defensive moves" didn't exactly pan out. Center fielder Mike Cameron spent most of the season coming off the bench and would never play more than three games in a row (when healthy), and Marco Scutaro had an off year which led to his move to second base towards the end of the season.

The Sox now have Beltre and Martinez in free agency, Ortiz for likely one more season, a hole in their outfield (especially in left field) and are in need of some offense. 

Assuming that they re-sign at least two of the three needs filled by opening day, this opens the question as to who the Red Sox will open up their check book for next offseason.

There is a guy out in San Diego named Adrian Gonzalez who the Red Sox have had their eye for at least the past year who will turn 30 next offseason and will be looking for a big contract to sign. 

However the Red Sox may be looking into acquiring Gonzalez this offseason, that is if the right pieces are traded away in order to get him.

WHY: The reason why the Red Sox will trade for him is simple: He's one of the best first baseman in the game and in my book only second best to Albert Pujols in his position ranking.

The guy is a phenomenal defender as evidence by his two gold gloves in 2008 and 2009.  He has incredible range as a first baseman as he has recorded at least a .950 fielding percentage since coming to San Diego, where his career really had a jump start. 

Also, Gonzalez has averaged only about 6 errors a year, which is actually better compared to other first baseman like Kevin Youkilis who averages about 7 and Albert Pujols who averages about 9 a season.

Also, with this season likely being David Ortiz's last, the left-handed power threat the the Red Sox have thrived on since 2004 will be eliminated and they will most likely look for a replacement.  Gonzalez, as a left handed hitter would certainly fit the bill.

Not to mention his offense, he has been able to hit at least .285 with 30 plus home runs and over 100 RBIs a season with an OPS averaging over .900 and a slugging percentage far over .500 in his last three seasons. 

Even though Ortiz had a great year last year, I just don't think he will be able to repeat these numbers at age 35 and I wouldn't be surprised if he is released or traded during this season in order to make room for someone like Gonzalez in the lineup.

The complete line last season for Gonzalez and why this guy really impresses me:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Adrian Gonzalez 160 591 87 176 33 0 31 101 93 114 0 0 .298 .393 .511

 

The guy has proven to be one of the most consistent hitters and defenders in the game who plays first base, and would certainly fit in well in Boston in the middle of their order.  Whether it be in two years when he's a free agent, or as early as next season.  Which leads me into my next point.  When they decide to make the move.

WHEN: One very interesting point is when the Red Sox decide to move in on Gonzalez, this offseason, during next season's trade deadline, or free agency of 2012.

Most baseball executives believe that Adrian Gonzalez will be dealt before the trading deadline of next year, as the Padres look to rebuild once again having just missed making the playoffs this season due to the eventually World Series Champions the San Francisco Giants.

Even though Padres GM Jed Hoyer used to work with Theo Epstein as an assistant, this doesn't mean that he will give a discount for his former employer.

Hoyer and the Padres will likely require the following in a trade:

  • A young hitter preferably an outfielder
  • A young middle infielder who can play second base the majority of the time
  • A young A-/B+ starting pitcher (minor leaguer)
  • Minor League Prospects

The Red Sox could match up well in the Padres current demands as they seem at least willing to listen on offers for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and middle infielder Jed Lowrie, who the Padres really like.  They could also wind up trading young shortstop Jose Iglesias instead of Lowrie who is very praised among the league and in San Diego.

The Red Sox clearly have the ability to make this trade happen, however they are still trying to figure out internally how to pull off a trade without including starter Clay Buchholz and minor league pitching prospect Casey Kelly in a potential deal to fit the pitching side of the deal.  The team also has Ryan Westmoreland, who recently underwent brain surgery eight months ago that could be moved, as well as pitcher Anthony Ranaudo who could be included in a deal.

The other option for them is to wait until free agency in order to make a bid for Gonzalez, however if they take this route they may face fierce competition and could enter a bidding, possibly overpaying (that's right, overpaying) for the games second best first baseman. 

However this may be the route the Red Sox should take, as their only competitors in bidding wars usually wind up being the Yankees, who appear set at first base with Mark Teixeira for at least 5 more seasons (during that offseason).

Even though the Red Sox have recently mentioned that keeping Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez are their two top priorities, they have also asked about the availability of Gonzalez this offseason once again.  Maybe the second time is a charm in the scenario.

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