Gio Gonzalez Trade Rumors: Will NY Yankees Deal the Farm for A's Ace?

Joe AcampadoCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2011

Gio Gonzalez Trade Rumors: Will NY Yankees Deal the Farm for A's Ace?

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    Gio Gonzalez has long been the subject of trade rumors, and the New York Yankees have needed pitching depth for an even longer time.

    Now that C.J. Wilson and Mark Buerhle are off the table, adding starting pitching through free agency isn't going to be easy or cheap.  The same can be said for the trade market.

    Teams are looking for a lot when it comes to their pitchers.  The Oakland Athletics are asking for at least two high-level prospects when it comes to Gio Gonzalez, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Gonzalez finished with a 3.12 ERA, 16 wins, 197 SO, and a WHIP of 1.32.  That's ace-like numbers if you ask me.

    He has skills that any team would love to have, especially the Yankees, but they would have to give up a good amount to get him.

    We'll take a look at the reasons why the Yankees should trade for him and why they shouldn't while also looking at who they can deal to get him.

The AL Landscape

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    Unless you've been frozen in carbonite a la Han Solo, you should have heard that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have signed Albert Pujols to solve their power-numbers crisis while still ignoring the fact they don't know what city they're in.

    You should've also heard that the pitching-deep Angels signed C.J. Wilson as well.  Now the Angels have a legitimate bat in the middle of their lineup and another quality starter in their rotation.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the American League just got tougher.

    The Angels still have to battle the Texas Rangers for the AL West, but there's an extra wild-card spot for the playoffs now.  Everyone knows how tough the AL East is, with three playoff contenders.

    Therefore, the New York Yankees could very well end up fighting the Angels for that last wild card spot, should the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays prevail over them.

    For some reason, as long as I can remember, the Angels have always had the Yankees' number without Albert Pujols.  But now that they have him, the Yankees are going to need some help of their own.

    And you can't forget the other playoff teams, of course.  The Detroit Tigers are still going to be tough, as are the Rangers.  The Red Sox and Rays figure to make playoff runs again next season.

    Then there's always that surprise team that manages to put together wins which could end up being the Cleveland Indians or the Toronto Blue Jays.

Why They Should Deal for Gio Gonzalez

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    The New York Yankees need pitching depth like the Hulk needs anger-management classes.

    As of now, the Yankees rotation looks to be CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.  Not a terrible rotation, but it isn't exactly reliable.

    Nova was good this past season, but we've yet to see if he can repeat.  Garcia was a miracle and it'll be another miracle if he pitches anywhere as well as he did.

    Hughes and Burnett are the biggest question marks.  No one knows if Hughes can stay healthy and live up to his potential, and A.J. Burnett is A.J. Burnett.

    The rotation might be able to get you to the playoffs, but you won't win the World Series unless Alex Rodriguez starts blasting 50 homers again.

    This is where Gio Gonzalez comes in.  He can slide in behind Sabathia as a reliable No. 2 option.  Sabathia, Gonzalez, and Nova would be one of the better trios in the AL.  Only the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's trio of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Dan Haren would be better.

    Gonzalez can level the playing field for the Yankees in terms of pitching.  The offense can take care of the rest.

Why They Shouldn't Deal for Gio Gonzalez

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    The Oakland Athletics want a lot for Gio Gonzalez.  The A's are interested in players with little big-league experience.  They're currently asking for two high-level prospects as well as several mid-level prospects.  

    Might as well put on their Dr. Evil face and ask for 100 billion dollars, too.

    The consensus is the A's might be trying to repeat the Dan Haren trade which got them Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez, as well as others.

    It's difficult to gauge how successful prospects will turn out, but prospects are still prospects.  

    Having to relinquish guys who could end up being better than the player you're getting has hung up many trades.

    The New York Yankees have the prospects to pull off the trade.  However, is giving up Jesus Montero, one of the Killer B's and more worth Gio Gonzalez and a win-now approach?

    Montero could end up being the next Albert Pujols for all we know.  Any one of the Killer B's could be as good, even better than Gonzalez.

    Would you rather have the second coming of Albert Pujols and two Gio Gonzalezes or just Gio Gonzalez himself?

Jesus Montero Deal

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    The Oakland Athletics are obviously going to ask for Jesus Montero.  In fact, just about every team would ask for Jesus Montero in a trade.

    The New York Yankees don't seem too keen on moving him, especially after his stellar 2011 season.  Instead, they look to hang on to him for a bit to see how he'll develop.

    Montero fits what the A's are looking for: a player with little big-league experience but a high upside.  He might have a glove made of iron but his bat is his biggest draw.

    The A's are in need of offensive help and Montero would give them that.  However, I also expect the A's to ask for a pitching prospect in return for Gio Gonzalez.

    Here's the first trade package that could happen:  Montero, Andrew Warren, Slade Heathcott and some other mid-level prospect.

    Warren is a favorite of Cashman but isn't at the same level potential-wise as any of the Killer B's.  Heathcott is a raw player who should develop into a decent center fielder.

    The A's want two high-level prospects, but I think if they can get Montero, they'll take him along with a couple solid mid-level prospects.

Dellin Betances Deal

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    Dellin Betances is one of the New York Yankees' famous Killer B's.  The Killer B's now consist of Betances and Manny Banuelos, since the Yankees have released Andrew Brackman.

    Betances has an excellent curveball to go with his mid-90s fastball.  Many scouts are projecting him to be a front-line starter somewhere down the road.

    To replace Gio Gonzalez, the Oakland Athletics would want a high-level pitching prospect. Betances fits that requirement.  Of course, the A's wouldn't stop there.

    The offensively challenged A's would want some highly touted bats as well.

    Therefore, here's the next package the Yankees could offer:  Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Gary Sanchez, Cito Culver and possibly another mid-level prospect.

    Betances and Warren would fit the pitching requirement.  Sanchez is pegged as the Yankees catcher of the future.  He's only 18 and is still very raw, but he can hit for average and power.

    Culver is a great defensive shortstop who has a strong arm.  His offense is susceptible, but he has steadily improved in the minors.

Manny Banuelos Deal

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    As of right now, Manny Banuelos is the New York Yankees' best pitching prospect.  He is projected to be an ace sometime in the future.  Even the great Mariano Rivera praises this kid.

    The Oakland Athletics can't do much better in terms of high-level pitching prospects in a trade with the New York Yankees.

    I figure a package built around Banuelos would look something like this:

    Banuelos, Austin Romine, David Phelps, Slade Heathcott and another mid-level prospect.

    Romine has struggled in the bigs, but he's still a gifted fielder behind the plate.  Phelps has had a pretty good minor-league career so far, but he projects to a back end of the rotation guy, maybe a No. 3 at best.

    I already mentioned Heathcott before, as he's one of the Yankees' better position players in the minors.

    The A's might be able to get better than this, but the lure of Banuelos could prove too strong to ignore.

The Killer B's Trade

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    The Oakland Athletics have made it very clear that they want two high-level prospects to headline any trade package.  They want guys with little or no experience in the majors.

    The Killer B's, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, fit both of those requirements.  They're young players with high potential and little to no big-league experience.

    If I were Brian Cashman, I would do everything possible to avoid trading away both of them, but if he feels Gio Gonzalez is the pitcher they're looking for, then he'll probably move them.

    The A's wouldn't be able to pass on a package of both Betances and Banuelos, despite who else is thrown in on the deal.

    Here's the deal I envision:  Betances, Banuelos, David Phelps, Mason Williams.

    Mason Williams is the only one I haven't spoken of before.  He's a mid-level prospect who had a pretty good 2011 season in the minors.  Williams is a solid outfielder who can get on base and steal them as well.

    Phelps' and Williams' potential is questionable, but Betances' and Banuelos' star potential isn't and could entice the A's to accept.

The Steal

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    Every once in a while, a team makes a deal but ends up on the losing side.  Gio Gonzalez is a great pitcher and the Oakland Athletics are rightfully asking for a high price.

    However, the growth of prospects is a difficult thing to predict accurately, so the guys the A's get in a trade can end up being busts (see the Johan Santana for a bag of chips trade).

    Here is a trade package the New York Yankees can put together which could be consider a steal for the Yankees:

    Hector Noesi, Gary Sanchez, David Phelps, Slade Heathcott, Cito Culver

    Noesi can slide into the A's rotation instantly or help out from the bullpen as he's been doing.

    Sanchez sorta, kinda fits the high-level prospect requirement but he's still 18 years old and rawer than sushi.  Phelps pictures to be nothing more than a No. 3 starter at best.

    Heathcott and Culver are both great defensive players who project to be everyday starters but not stars.

    This package would make the Yankees the winners in the trade while giving the A's a bunch of good, but not great prospects.

    Sure, the A's might scoff at this offer, but there have been worse deals made (again, see the Santana-for-IOU-coupon trade).

The All-In

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    Trades for highly-skilled and highly-valued players usually involve a couple of key players, whether they are prospects or everyday starters.

    Thus, should the Yankees truly go after Gio Gonzalez, the Oakland Athletics are going to ask for a lot in return.  The price the A's would ask for would likely be out of Brian Cashman's comfort zone.

    This is what the A's will likely ask for:

    Jesus Montero, either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos (hopefully not both), Adam Warren, Cito Culver and Slade Heathcott.

    The A's would want Montero for his offensive prowess.  They would also want one of the Killer B's to replace Gonzalez later down the road once he is big-league ready.

    The rest of the guys are in the higher tier of Yankee prospects but aren't on the level of Montero or Banuelos.  They figure to be solid, everyday players.  They're interchangeable with any one of the Yankees' mid-level prospects the A's value.

    The Yankees would and should laugh at that price.  However, if one of the Steinbrenners goes over Cashman's head and demands Gonzalez, don't be surprised if a trade like this happens.

What the New York Yankees Will End Up Doing

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    After taking a look at what the New York Yankees can do to get Gio Gonzalez, I'm going to say that the Yankees won't end up trading for him.

    The Yankees have dangled their prospects before, especially Jesus Montero.  However, after seeing what he can do at the major-league level, the Yankees might be more inclined to keep him.

    Yankees GM Brian Cashman has held onto his prospects, only offering them in the deal of deals.  Gio Gonzalez is good, but I don't think he's two high-potential prospects and more good.  At least not yet.

    Cashman isn't the type of guy to sell the farm for one player.

    The Yankees are good enough to compete with the way they're built now.  Down the road, they'll make trades and adjustments as they see fit, but they shouldn't be trading guys or spending money blindly.

    Each trade should be carefully calculated and thought out.  I'd rather take the chance of losing now and winning later, especially if winning later means winning multiple times.