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UPDATE: The Red Sox have agreed in principle to acquire Adrian Gonzalez for RHP Casey Kelly, 1B Anthony Rizzo, and OF Reymond Fuentes.
According to ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes, the Red Sox and Padres are discussing a mega-trade that would send long-coveted first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for a slew of Red Sox top prospects that would not include Daniel Bard or Clay Buchholz. The Cubs and maybe a few other teams are also in the running, but Boston is Gonzalez’s preference, according to SI’s Jon Heyman.
ESPN’s Buster Olney said that Padres closer Heath Bell could also be in the trade talks, which would be interesting considering the Red Sox barely missed out on Mariano Rivera and just tendered a contract (probably worth $11 million) to Jonathan Papelbon. Would Paps be on the move if the Sox acquire Bell?
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The Red Sox would likely trade four of the five prospects listed above, with a fifth one likely to be a middle-tier prospect, if necessary. Major league sources told Edes that Kelly and Rizzo are absolutely necessary in any deal for the 28-year-old Gonzalez, who also requires that he receive a long-term contract extension (something in the neighborhood of six years, $120 million).
It’s also worth noting that Gonzalez, who earns $6.2 million next season, had offseason shoulder surgery, and he would need to pass a physical in any trade to the Red Sox.
In Gonzalez, the Red Sox would finally be able to answer the question: Who is the team’s longterm middle-of-the-order bat? Gonzalez fits the bill, as he would likely slide right into the third spot of the batting order. Last season in a lineup surrounded by the likes of Chase Headley, David Eckstein, Will Venable, and Jerry Hairston, Jr., Gonzalez hit .298 with 31 HR and 101 RBI. He led his team in batting average, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage (.393), hits (176), doubles (33), runs scored (87), walks (93), and slugging percentage (.511), in addition to several other offensive categories.
Gonzalez took his sorry lineup to within one game of the NL West crown, and placed fourth in the MVP voting. He’s not just among the league’s elite for his offense; his defense is stellar too. A-Gonz has two gold gloves to his credit, and sported an above-average UZR last year of 1.1. By comparison, in limited time, Kevin Youkilis posted a UZR of 1.6 at first base, also above-average.
If Bell would be included in this mega-deal, it could spell the end for Jonathan Papelbon in Boston. Paps is likely in his final year with the Sox in 2011, as next year he will be out of the Red Sox control and into free agency for the first time in his career. The Red Sox appear ready to appoint Daniel Bard to closer for the 2012 season, but that plan could be on hold. The Red Sox reportedly offered Mariano Rivera a deal for two or three years, meaning they may not be as confident in Bard as we think.
That perceived lack of confidence in the young flamethrower also holds true if the team trades for Bell. The 33-year-old had an excellent year for the Pads in 2010, finishing with 47 saves and a 6-1 record, to go with a 1.97 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and 86 strikeouts in 71 innings. His job in SD was to replace one of the greatest closers in the history of baseball, and he did it admirably. Despite Papelbon’s recent struggles, he’s still by far the greatest closer in the history of the Red Sox, so Bell would certainly have some big shoes to fill.
A-Gonz is nearly a lock for 30 HRs and 100 RBI every season for at least a few years, so if you have the chance to acquire that kind of consistent talent, some key assets may have to be relinquished. The top two prospects coveted by other teams are pitcher Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. To grab Adrian, it’s going to take the both of them and then some.
Last year, Rizzo hit 25 home runs and had 100 in Single A and Double A last season. Kelly, meanwhile, had a 5.31 ERA with the Portland Sea Dogs, playing his first full year as a pitcher after entering the Red Sox organization as a shortstop/pitcher combo player.
Of the rest of the prospects, Iglesias was often viewed as the team’s shortstop of the future, while Kalish and Reddick could man the team’s outfield of the future.
It looks like Theo will be able to get a deal done here. The Padres will not be able to afford A-Gonz in the future, and the Red Sox have to most to offer them in terms of propsects. Gonzalez gets what he wants in coming to Boston, and he joins a potentially epic lineup if the Red Sox sign Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford.
Salivate at the potential of this lineup, per Edes: