Teams That Should Chase Carlos Gonzalez Trade If Justin Upton Isn't Moved

Ian CasselberryMLB Lead WriterDecember 28, 2012

Teams That Should Chase Carlos Gonzalez Trade If Justin Upton Isn't Moved

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    Before a hamstring injury shortened his 2012 season, Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was putting up MVP-caliber numbers.

    The 27-year-old finished among the National League's top 10 batters in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS this year. Had he not been limited to 132 games, perhaps Gonzalez's home run and RBI numbers would have ranked him among the top in the league as well. 

    Gonzalez is the type of player a roster can be built around. He's the sort of young superstar a rebuilding team like the Rockies should covet, knowing that he could be a cornerstone talent for years to come. 

    But should a team far from contention think about trading a budding star like Gonzalez in hopes of getting a load of developing prospects in return? That's how ESPN's Jim Bowden sees it. 

    In his latest column for ESPN.com, Bowden lists five moves that could be made by playoff contenders. One of them is the Rockies trading Gonzalez to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal and outfielder Jon Jay. 

    That would be a curious move for the Cardinals, leaving them without a true center fielder. Gonzalez has played 200 games at that position, however, so maybe the added offense he would bring to the lineup would compensate for defensive shortcomings. 

    But there are plenty of other MLB teams with whom Gonzalez might be a better fit. Here are five clubs that should check in with the Rockies to see if their left fielder is available. 

Texas Rangers

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    According to ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett, the Texas Rangers are still looking for a power bat to replace the production of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. 

    While sluggers like the Arizona Diamondbacks' Jason Kubel and free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche are available, many baseball analysts and observers have suggested that the Rangers take a shot at Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

    But under the same rationale, why shouldn't Texas general manager Jon Daniels also look at Carlos Gonzalez? Of all the teams looking for a power-hitting outfielder, the Rangers have the most resources available to make such a deal happen. 

    Daniels wouldn't even have to give up prized shortstops Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar because the Rockies already have Troy Tulowitzki. 

    The Rangers would surely have to include Mike Olt in such a deal, however. And we know the Rockies want pitching, so Martin Perez would be a part of any trade package. Could others such as Alexi Ogando or Neftali Feliz also go to Colorado for Gonzalez? 

    One of the knocks against Gonzalez is that he benefits greatly from hitting at Coors Field. His batting average is 80 points higher than on the road, his OPS is 258 points better and he's hit nearly twice as many home runs in Colorado.

    But if he was traded to Texas, he'd get to hit in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, another excellent environment for hitters.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Philadelphia Phillies are still in need of an outfielder.

    General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. placed a premium on getting a center fielder and he acquired Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins to fill that position. But the Phillies are lacking some pop from one of their corner outfield spots.

    According to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury, Philadelphia wants to give Darin Ruf a shot in left field. But Carlos Gonzalez has played 118 games in right field during his five MLB seasons and could presumably play over there. FanGraphs' Ultimate Zone Rating says he's an above-average defender at that position. 

    But Ruf might be included in a trade package for Gonzalez anyway, so Gonzalez could still be the Phillies' left fielder with Domonic Brown or John Mayberry playing in right field. 

    The Phillies would likely prefer a right-handed power bat to hit between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but their reported interest in Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher indicates that the team is willing to add a left-handed hitter if he can provide power and run production. 

    Amaro has less pitching available to trade after dealing Vance Worley and Trevor May to Minnesota in the Revere trade. But No. 1 prospect Jesse Biddle is still on hand, as is Jon Pettibone. Perhaps Sebastian Valle could be included as defensive insurance for Wilin Rosario at catcher. 

    Tapping out the farm system probably isn't the way Amaro wants to go. But for five years of Gonzalez (at $71 million), that sacrifice might be worth it. 

Baltimore Orioles

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    One of the more baffling developments of the offseason has been the Baltimore Orioles' reluctance to follow up on their surprising 2012 success with, well, not very much. 

    After finishing two games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and winning one of the league's wild-card playoff spots, the O's seemed ready to make a splashy move to ensure that they weren't a one-year fluke.

    Maybe Baltimore isn't a fluke and should be considered a playoff contender. But why not make sure of that? 

    The O's had an opening in left field that looked ready to be filled by the likes of Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher. Maybe a trade for Justin Upton was possible. Instead, the team traded for Trayvon Robinson and re-signed Nate McLouth. 

    What happened to the days when Peter Angelos would make a bold move like signing Albert Belle or Roberto Alomar?

    Obviously, this would be different since the O's would have to trade for Carlos Gonzalez. And general manager Dan Duquette likely doesn't want to trade his top prospects—especially someone like Dylan Bundy or Jonathan Schoop. 

    The minor league system might not have enough depth after those players to come up with a package that interests the Rockies. 

Seattle Mariners

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    Eventually, the Seattle Mariners have to get the big power-hitting bat they've been seeking, right?

    The Mariners didn't really have a shot at Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher. Mike Napoli may have been an unrealistic ambition too. 

    Free-agent hitters just don't seem interested in signing with Seattle. In the past, Safeco Field's vast outfield dimensions was a primary reason for that, but the Mariners are moving the fences in. Maybe after a year of seeing how the ballpark plays, a slugger might be willing to take a chance on Seattle.

    Competing in the AL West wouldn't hurt either, though that seems unlikely with the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all looking like playoff contenders and World Series hopefuls.

    If the Mariners can't sign a power hitter, they'll have to trade for one. General manager Jack Zduriencik has already gotten one bat in Kendry Morales, but he has the pitching prospects to get an even more formidable hitter. 

    Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen look like key pieces of the Mariners' future, but Seattle would have Carlos Gonzalez for five years at an average annual salary of $14.2 million. Perhaps one of the Mariners' young hitters that hasn't developed as hoped, such as Justin Smoak or Dustin Ackley, could be included in a trade package as well. 

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    I can hear what you're about to say: The Pittsburgh Pirates are not going to make a deal like this.

    But they should.

    The Pirates had the opportunity to trade for an impact player at the deadline this year and didn't follow through. Getting Travis Snider from the Toronto Blue Jays was taking a chance on upside and potential, but it didn't provide Pittsburgh with the sure thing it needed while still in contention for the NL Central lead.

    To break through against the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in their division, the Pirates need to make a big move, one that can actually impact the standings. Getting Carlos Gonzalez from the Colorado Rockies would be that move. 

    A middle of the lineup with Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones would be formidable. Pittsburgh's pitching staff wouldn't have to worry about run support like it did through various parts of the season. 

    The Pirates have the pitching and outfield prospects to make a deal like this happen. Yes, general manager Neal Huntington would be taking a chance by trading potential future stars. But he'd have another superstar hitter to make his team better in the present. 

New York Yankees

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    The New York Yankees always have to be included in articles like this, don't they?

    But as long as the Yanks have players like Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki in their corner outfield spots, people will be looking for ways for the team to upgrade. 

    Curtis Granderson would probably have to be included in any trade package for Carlos Gonzalez. Though his $14 million salary is more than the Rockies would like to pay, it would only be for one season and he could take over for Gonzalez in left field.

    Do the Yankees have the resources to make this kind of trade with the Rockies, however?

    General manager Brian Cashman doesn't have the pitching prospects to interest Colorado, especially with the regression of Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. But the Yanks do have outfielders that could help the Rockies in years to come. 

    The Yankees need to get younger and adding a player like Gonzalez would help with that while also providing the power and run production needed from a corner outfield spot. Just imagine Gonzalez's sweet left-handed swing driving baseballs to that short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium. 

    Would the Yanks be able to add the remaining five years and $71 million on Gonzalez's contract and fulfill principal owner Hal Steinbrenner's mandate of staying below the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014, however? That might be the true challenge here.

     

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