Plenty of both baseless and baseful rumors at this time of year. With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, it is time for teams to get right down to talking turkey, amirite?

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!

Comments (15)

  1. I wouldn’t mind trading 3 good prospects for Gio Gonzalez. This team absolutely needs to add another reliable starter if they plan to even pretend to compete. One of the best things about having a great system is being able to trade for established talent. New Hampshire being the best team in AA every year is cool, but let’s get the actual big club some wins.

  2. “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. ”

    Based on the assumption that you’d rather hear this from anyone than North York Jays. I’ll just go ahead and say that I think that’s a highly contentious statement.

    • What is contentious about that statement? His career minor league OPS of .837 in pitchers leagues like the GSL, FSL, and Sally?

      Also, “put up numbers” is open-ended as all get out. Free and clear!

  3. Easy – do this AA style… trade 3 prospects for Garza (I wouldn’t dare to guess which 3 it would take, but they’d have to be good ones I assume) and then deal Garza for Alonzo :)

    AA styles!!

  4. I would deal Brett Cecil for Yonder Alonso. That is if the Jays could convince the Reds that his 15 wins in 2010 qualifies him as a #2 starter.

    Then turnaround and deal involving Adam Lind for either Bailey or Gio Gonzalez.

    Although I’m not that high on Gonzalez because his numbers against AL East teams were dreadful, and I think the cost to get him would outweigh his value.

  5. You know there’s this guy that was drafted 10 spots after Yonder Alonso in the 2008 draft whose numbers are awfully similar (aided and abetted greatly by this season in the PCL, but still it’s eery):

    Yonder Alonso:
    .293/.370/.466/.837 in 1340 PA with 37.2 PA/HR, 11.0 BB%, 15.1 K%, 1.37 K/BB

    David Cooper:
    .299/.373/.462/.836 in 1939 PA with 44.1 PA/HR, 10.7 BB%, 13.2 K%, 1.23 K/BB

    Obviously Alonso has a better pedigree than Cooper, but in terms of production there’s not much to choose from and thus we may already have our Alonso right here. Why would we trade big league starting pitching to get a duplicate?

    • Like you said:

      The Florida State League and Southern Leagues are nowhere the hitter’s league that is the Pacific Coast League.

      I’d take Cooper’s numbers with tremendous skepticism and the most minute of grains of salt. I’m not sure the comparison holds enough water to judge Alonzo as a “duplicate” of Cooper.

      • Agreed about the skepticism, and I would say take his numbers with a truckload of salt. However, prior to this year Cooper had a .274/.348/.435/.783 slash line with a .161 ISO (Alonso: .173 ISO) and 39.8 PA/HR, 10.1 BB%, 15.2 K%, and 1.50 K/BB in Auburn, Lansing, Dunedin, and New Hampshire (none of which can be described as hitter’s havens). Pretty [Getting Blanked]ing meh.

        This year he put up a line of .364/.439/.535/.974 with a .171 ISO, and 60.6 PA/HR, 12.3 BB%, 7.9 K%, and 0.64 K/BB. Certainly some of that inflation is due to the crazy hitting environment, but is there also a possibility that something clicked for him? Certainly he controlled the strike zone far better than he ever has before this year.

        It’s one of many reasons the Jays have to get the hell out of the PCL, so they can separate fact from fiction on the steady stream of prospects that are going to pass through AAA in the coming years and so that they can get them to Toronto without the “Red Eye Express” that necessitates a one day lag between callup/recall and arrival.

        What’s interesting about Cooper’s numbers is that his HR went down in an environment where one would expect the opposite. I don’t know if that’s good/bad/indifferent, but I feel quite confident in saying that if you’re going to upgrade at 1B, that upgrade needs to be better than Yonder Alonso given what you’re going to have to give up to get him.

  6. Those numbers are the minor league numbers for the two because they haven’t spent much time in the big leagues yet.

  7. Gio Gonzalez has atrocious career #s vs. the AL East. For some of the packages I see thrown around for him, an emphatic PASS.

    I can’t believe there are people on the Twitter actually advocating Morrow for Alonso.

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