Finally the Gio Gonzalez trade rumors can stop as the Oakland Athletics sent him to Washington in exchange for pitchers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Tom Milone as well as catcher Derek Norris. Let’s look at the fallout for both teams.
It had long been discussed that Washington wanted to add a front-line pitcher to supplement Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimermann. They got their man in Gonzalez, but is he really a lock to put up ace-like numbers?
His control is a major concern, with a career BB/9 of 4.44 (over the past two seasons he has posted marks of 4.13 and 4.05). Could the number decline now that he doesn’t have to maneuver around a DH and generally deeper lineups? Possibly, but he’s not going to suddenly be an elite control artist. His inability to avoid the free pass takes away any opportunity of posting an impressive WHIP, immediately hurting his value.
You also have to look at his home/road split from the past two seasons:
- 2010 – 2.56/3.92
- 2011 – 2.70/3.62
There is nothing wrong with the road numbers, but they obviously pale in comparison to his success in Oakland. Yes, moving to the NL should help but it is not going to be a miracle cure. Considering that he has been on the lucky side of things the past few years with his strand rate (78.1% and 77.1%), seeing him post an ERA near 4.00 would not be a complete surprise.
The Nationals gave up a lot of talent to get him, probably too much. Yes, he has a track record and has proven that he can throw 200+ innings in the Major Leagues, but there are too many concerns. While the move to the NL and facing easier lineups will help, pitching in Oakland helped to cover a lot of his warts. That’s not to say that he isn’t a good starting pitcher, but he’s not likely to live up to the hype heading into 2012. Fantasy owners need to keep that in mind before selecting him.
Billy Beane and the A’s continue to try and retool by sending away their established young starting pitchers. First it was Trevor Cahill (bringing back a package headlined by Jarrod Parker). Now it’s Gonzalez, and they got a solid group of players in return.
We talked about Brad Peacock a few weeks ago (click here to view), asking whether he could be a force in the Nationals’ rotation by the end of ’12. Now in Oakland, it’s almost a given that he gets his opportunity. He struck out 177 batters in 146.2 IP between Double and Triple-A in 2011 and, having thrown 158.2 total innings, shouldn’t face a major innings limit.
With Peacock and Parker now in place, Beane has quickly retooled with potential top of the rotation starting pitchers.
In A.J. Cole, the A’s picked up another potential top of the rotation starting pitcher, though he is not close to making an impact. A fourth round selection in 2010, Cole struck out 108 batters vs. 24 walks in just 20 appearances (18 starts) in Low-A. A hard thrower, even if he fails to develop his secondary pitches, you would think he has the potential to develop into a lights out bullpen option. Regardless, he’s a high-upside arm who is just 20-years old.
Milone is a left-handed pitcher who, like Peacock, has the chance to immediately step into the A’s rotation (and should get a shot at some point). The Nationals have been moving him a level at a time and he has responded well. He has shown tremendous control (career 1.5 BB/9) and has increased his strikeouts the past two seasons (8.8 & 9.4 K/9).
Having spent an entire season at Triple-A, getting a shot in the Major Leagues would obviously be the next step in his evolution. His upside isn’t that of Peacock or Cole (who may have the highest ceiling of any of the pitchers Oakland as acquired), but he can provide immediate help.
Norris obviously became expendable after the team acquired Wilson Ramos a few years ago. He struggled at Double-A in ’11, striking out 117 times in just 334 AB. So, despite hitting 20 HR, there is a huge question mark hanging over his head. That’s not to say that the upside isn’t there, giving Oakland an eventual replacement to Kurt Suzuki (who they could now look to move before Opening Day), but he’s no sure thing.
At the end of the day you have to like the group of prospects that Oakland was able to bring back. It’s not that Gonzalez isn’t a good pitcher, but it’s not hard to imagine him struggling outside of the cavernous stadium in Oakland. Getting three quality arms, as well as a potential catcher of the future, is a great job.
What are your thoughts of the deal? Who is the biggest winner? Who is the loser?
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Make sure to check out our other 2012 projections: