Gio Gonzalez Traded to Washington Nationals: 5 Potential Effects on Offseason
That is likely what was heard coming from front offices around baseball this afternoon after learning from Keith Law of ESPN that the Oakland Athletics have traded their ace, Gio Gonzalez, to the Washington Nationals for a package of four prospects, three of whom Baseball America ranked in their preview of Washington's top 10 prospects for 2012.*
As we have seen over the past few weeks, the price to acquire quality starting pitching is excessive, whether it be via trade or as a free-agent signing.
Now that another quality starter is off the market, teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, among others, are trying to figure out their next move.
Let's take a look at how Gonzalez coming off the market could shape the roughly eight weeks that remain before pitchers and catchers begin to report to spring training.
*You may need a premium subscription to Baseball America to access their top 10 lists for 2012
Edwin Jackson Is Going To Get Paid
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Since becoming a full-time starting pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007, Edwin Jackson has proven to be an "innings-eater," logging an average of 193 innings a season, including a career-high 214 with the Detroit Tigers in 2009.
Undoubtedly you have heard the saying "numbers don't lie"—and that is true in the case of Jackson, who is nothing more than an average major league pitcher.
Since 2007, an average year for the 28-year-old righty has been: 11-11 with a 4.34 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 145 strikeouts over 193 innings.
Of the established free-agent pitchers remaining on the market, Jackson is the youngest. His agent, Scott Boras, is sure to make that a focal point in negotiations with any team that shows interest.
At this point, it is likely only a matter of time when, not if, a team will give in and give Boras the years and money he seeks for a team to retain Jackson's services.
The Atlanta Braves May Get the Impact Bat They Covet
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Even with the reported concern over Tommy Hanson's shoulder, the Atlanta Braves have had trade discussions with the Baltimore Orioles centered around 26-year-old Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones and the Braves' 25-year-old right-handed starter, Jair Jurrjens.
Reportedly, the Orioles' asking price was deemed too high.
That being said, with the number of teams who have a desire to add pitching to their teams—especially young pitching with major league experience—there is a likelihood of another team, perhaps the Orioles themselves, trading an impact, right-handed bat to the Braves in exchange for a lesser package.
As we have seen over the years, it is easier to replace a bat in your lineup than it is to acquire young, experienced starting pitchers.
Jon Niese Could Still Be on the Move
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said that there have not been any substantial discussions with other teams regarding Niese and he believe Niese is a piece to build around.
That being said, the Mets are clearly a team attempting to rebuild on the fly, and with multiple teams still interested in acquiring Niese, it is entirely possible that a team who has yet to add pitching to their roster comes along and gives the Mets what they seek—a catcher and young pitching.
The Cubs Will Get a Lot for Matt Garza
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Now, word out of Chicago is that the Cubs' new management team, namely Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, have decided that instead of being big spenders in free agency, the Cubs would be better off undergoing a complete rebuild.
With the Cubs reportedly frustrated with the new rules limiting the amount of spending that can be done in regards to signing international free agents, it makes sense that they would look to begin the rebuild in earnest by dealing away one of their most tradeable assets.
Garza, who posted career bests in ERA (3.35) and K/9 (9.0) with the Cubs in 2011, is likely to draw interest from every team still looking to upgrade their starting rotation. With his history of success in the AL East, it is conceivable that both the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, both of whom have deep farm systems, could end up bidding against each other to acquire his services.
The Steinbrenner Factor Could Come into Play
As the 2011 non-waiver trade deadline neared, the New York Yankees were linked to Wandy Rodriguez.
In a scene reminiscent of their father's heyday as Yankees owner, current owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner usurped GM Brian Cashman's power, ignoring Cashman's mild interest in acquiring the 32-year-old lefty and entered into discussions with the Houston Astros.
The Yankees' mantra, even after George Steinbrenner's death, has remained constant—the only successful season is one that culminates with a World Series championship.
With that being said, the Yankees have largely been spectators this offseason, watching teams acquire pitching help while doing very little to stabilize their own rotation, something that is an obvious weakness.
The Steinbrenners are not known for having patience—or for not getting what they want.
Hank and Hal could once again insert themselves and make a move to acquire a pitcher that Cashman does not necessarily agree with.
Photo courtesy of Cleveland.com.