Gio to Nats for Cole, Norris, Peacock, and Milone. Love this for Oakland.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 22, 2011
Um, wow. As you can see, Keith Law reports the A’s finally pulled the trigger on the Gio Gonzalez deal. And not a moment too soon, considering this haul. The Nats give up a massive package of prospects in exchange for the highly-sought after Oakland lefty. Wow.
That sound you hear is the prospect bubble is bursting as we speak.
This package represents four of the top ten prospects on Minor League Balls’ best Nationals prospects list. The A’s land A.J. Cole, a fourth round pick from the 2010 draft. Cole is a right-handed started selected out of high school who posted big time strikeout numbers in his first season in the South Atlantic (Sally) league.
Right-hander Brad Peacock made his big league debut in 2011, making two strong starts during September garbage time. Strong in that he didn’t give up many runs but he managed to avoid strikeouts like the plague.
Tom Milone appears to be a major part of the deal, as some reports claim Oakland wouldn’t make the trade without Milone in it. He’s another control specialist who made his debut in the show this summer. A fly ball pitcher who keeps baserunners to a minimum will really enjoy playing in Oakland, I’m sure.
The crown jewel of this trade for the A’s has to be catcher Derek Norris. John Sickels ranks him sixth in the Nats system while Keith Law held him in a much higher regard ahead of 2011. According to Law, Norris ranks second in the Nats system and thirty-third in all of baseball. He has patience and power, drawing 77 walks and clouting 20 home runs in just 104 games during his first stint at Double-A. Concerns about his defense are overblown, claims Law ($), and his bat easily plays at the position.
In Gonzalez, the Nats get one of the pitching prizes of the 2011 off-season, a pitcher with great strikeout numbers but questionable control. Moving to the National League certainly won’t hurt his numbers but cutting down his walks is essential if his career is to avoid the Jonathan Sanchez/Oliver Perez spiral of sadness.
A rotation of Strasburg/Zimmerman/Gonzalez is nice to look at indeed. With Bryce Harper coming and Wilson Ramos home safe, the Nationals think they can really compete in the tough NL East in 2012 and beyond.
The A’s do what the A’s do: they trade a player at the absolute peak of his value, getting major league-ready players and well-regarded players still a few years away. Two of these players (Norris & Cole) might end up as legit pieces while Peacock and Milone are fringey outside the comfy confines of whatever the hell they’re calling the Coliseum these days (opinions are very mixed on Peacock). Billy Beane has still got it, gall-darn it. At no point should we ever doubt Brad Pitt, he’s just too damn handsome.