Gonzalez is one of the best first baseman in the game. Perhaps only Albert Pujols is better.
Casey Kelly was the clear target of the Padres in this deal. His name was the only specific component to a deal that has been rumored for the better part of the last 24 hours.
Deemed a future top-of-the-rotation pitcher, is he really worth one of the best first baseman in the game?
Let's start with the basics:
Kelly, just 21 years of age, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (30th overall) of the 2008 MLB Amateur draft. He split time between pitcher and shortstop in his first two minor league seasons before making the decision to pitch full time starting in 2010.
Kelly made 21 starts (the most he's ever made as a pitcher on the professional level) last season. He was 3-5 with a 5.31 ERA and 1.61 WHIP before he was shut down in August due to a lat muscle strain. He pitched a total of just 95.0 innings—roughly 4.5 innings per start.
While the talent is presumably there, Kelly is a long way off from being Major League ready. The Padres would be lucky to have him up at any point during the 2012 campaign, and it's possible that his stay in the minors could extend even further beyond that.
Who do you think this deal will benefit most?
Anthony Rizzo, also 21, projects as a decent power-hitting first baseman in the Majors. In 2010, over stints with the High-A Salem Red Sox and Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, Rizzo hit 25 HR and 100 RBI in 531 AB, with a batting line of .260/.334/.480.
Rizzo is labeled as a solid defender—he has just 24 errors and a .991 fielding percentage in 2585 chances through his minor league career. He also has the reputation of being a bit of a free swinger—he had 132 SO to just 61 BB last year.
Fuentes is just 19, and hit .270 with 42 stolen bases over 104 games with the Class A Greenville Drive.
All three have talent, but none of them are close to being Major League ready. It could legitimately be at least two years before any of the three see any action.
The Padres chose not to pursue players like OF Jacoby Ellsbury, OF Ryan Kalish and SS Jose Iglesias, all of whom who are either MLB ready or not far off.
Ellsbury is likely to start the year for the Red Sox in center field and Kalish will probably split time between the minors and majors. Iglesias, while his bat isn't Major League ready, is considered to already be an above average MLB defender.
This move can't be popular in San Diego. The Padres knew that they wouldn't be able to re-sign Gonzalez once he hits free agency in 2011, yet it's still a bit odd that they dealt their best player without getting anyone of Major League talent in return.
Considering the fashion in which the Padres missed the playoffs last season and now the trade of Gonzalez, there isn't much to look forward to in San Diego next year.