Quite a few interesting names are springing up on the MLBTRs of the world. Let’s waste little time and take a quick cruise around the nonsensical stories of the early day.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (via MLBTR) suggest the bidding for Reds slugging prospect Yonder Alonso revolves around teams willing to offer pitching help, in the form of a “number 2″ starter or a closer candidate. Names bandied about include Tampa, the Jays or the A’s.
Alonso is solidly blocked by former MVP and world-beating superman Joey Votto at first base and doesn’t seem like much of a fit in left field. Alonso’s name gets implicated in just about every single Reds deal, dating back to the Scott Rolen/Edwin Encarnacion trade of 2009.
As a blue chip hitter who put up numbers at nearly every level while demonstrating a professional, all-fields approach, there is great interest in Alonso. Number two starter interest? That I cannot see. Matt LaPorta was the main chip in the CC Sabathia trade a few years back but that was a rental version of the ace.
Can Alonso net a top pitcher? One in the final year of a deal, sure. That I can support. If the Reds are looking to take another shot at the Central division title, one year of a pitcher like Brandon McCarthy or even Francisco Liriano might not be out of the question. But a top-end guy like James Shields? Or one of the Jays non-Romero starters? I am officially dubious.
Gio Gonzalez is a pitcher attracting a great deal of attention, with the Red Sox keenly inquiring about the A’s left-hander. A possible match for an Alonso trade, Gonzalez represents a decent commodity – a lefty capable of missing bats and getting ground balls.
Gonzalez is a rare breed. He ranks in the top ten for strikeout rate among starters over the past three seasons, notching nearly a K per inning. But his walk rate is easily the highest among qualified hurlers, outpacing A.J. Burnett by nearly a full percentage point.
Gonzalez posts similar numbers to Ricky Romero while calling one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the American League his home. How would that translate to a smaller ballpark like Fenway or the Great American Bandbox? Gio’s ability to keep the ball on the ground bodes well moving away from the Coliseum has humbled better pitchers than Gio before. The difference is surely reflected in the price teams are willing to pay.
The talk around Gonzalez and teammate Andre Bailey is all speculation at this point – the A’s are maintaining radio silence on these deals. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes the A’s hold Gonzalez in a similar regard to Dan Haren. Haren’s trade netted the Athletics both Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson, remember.
A huge haul but also…prospects. The A’s don’t seem to have too much interest in trading big league-ready talent, preferring players just on the cusp. Gonzalez had fewer than 50 plate appearances above AA when the A’s acquired him (before sending him to the Rockies in the Matt Holliday deal.)
Would the A’s trade both Bailey and Gonzalez for players like Alonso and Logan Morrison, as previously rumored? I don’t think so. The A’s MO suggests a volume approach, bringing in more high-ceiling minor leaguers than a player who can step right in and start on Opening Day. Unless the Yankees step in and blow the competition away with a massive Montero/Betances package. Then all bets are officially off.
Another top starter who might be available on the trade market is Matt Garza. Kenny Rosenthal (via the Dallas Morning News) suggested the Rangers might have interest in the Cubs starter as the Theo regime is willing to listen on anybody. Garza is set to become a free agent at the end of 2012, coming off a season in which he posted downright gaudy strikeout numbers after his move to the NL. With the Cubs and Reds unlikely to deal within the division, the Yonder Alonso sweepstakes are likely to include the Cubs.
With teams still feeling their way around the new CBA and so many talented players appearing on the trade market, the Winter Meetings certainly shape up to be quite an exciting time. Until nobody is traded and all big free agents re-sign with their original clubs, of course. At least we’ll have something to complain about!