The Washington Nationals are reportedly shopping veteran starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez as they look to bolster their lineup.
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Nats Seek Outfield Upgrade in Gonzalez Talks
Friday, Jan. 8
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported the Nationals are looking into a plan that would see them trade Gonzalez for a center fielder and then sign free-agent starter Wei-Yin Chen to fill the void in the rotation. He noted they originally tried to acquire Ender Inciarte before he got dealt to the Atlanta Braves.
Gonzalez could be an attractive target for teams seeking to upgrade their starting staff due to his terrific strikeout totals. He finished last season with 169 punchouts in 175.2 innings and has 1,241 in 1,264.2 frames across eight seasons.
Those totals haven't translated into dominance, though. He sports a 3.62 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP for his career, which comes in part from erratic control. He averages 3.90 walks per nine innings for his career, a number that results in a lot of short outings, as he gets himself into jams.
One other potential hurdle is his contract. He's set to earn $12 million for the 2016 season and then has a team option in 2017 and a vesting option in 2018 for the same amount, according to Spotrac.
That said, he showcased his upside during his first year with the Nationals in 2012 when he posted a 2.89 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 199.1 innings. That performance would be a welcome addition to any staff.
It's unclear what type of return the Nationals could demand given the wide-ranging pros and cons. There's certainly room for improvement in center, however, with Michael Taylor currently slated to start between Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.
They may have to move quickly if the entire plan hinges on landing Chen, though. Spring training is just over a month away and the left-hander will want to find a new home soon.