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A’s Trade Gio to the Nats in a 4 for 1 Deal
Posted By Josh Muller On Dec 22 2011 @ 7:16 pm In Oakland A's | No Comments
Well it’s finally official. The Oakland A’s  are sending Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals  for four prospects, pitchers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, and Tom Milone along with catcher Derek Norris.
My first reaction is that this seems to be a pretty good deal for both sides, with the Nationals possibly giving up too much upside. But it also solidifies their rotation significantly making them a contender (you heard correctly) in the NL East.
Gio joins an already impressive young pair of pitchers in Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann to make a fine 1-2-3 punch in that rotation. And their lineup, which already has some star power in Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, is set to get some significant additions soon in top prospect, Bryce Harper and first round pick last year, Anthony Rendon. This trade sets up the Nationals nicely for the next few years for sure and makes them immediately relevant in the playoff race.
In Gio they are getting a solid #2 or #3 starter that has four more years of team control. Pitching in that ballpark in the National League should also help Gio’s numbers. He needs to cut down on the walks, but there is no denying Gio’s stuff. He has a 93-95 mph fastball with arguably the best left-handed curveball in the game.
In return, the A’s get three prospects with some serious upside and a solid left-handed pitcher.
When I was following the rumors the last couple of days leading up to this trade, it seemed like the Nationals were offering packages that centered around either Peacock or Cole, and the A’s got both. Based on that, I like the trade already.
Peacock had a breakout year last year pitching between AA and AAA. He had an ERA of 2.39 last year at those two stops and had almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings (k/9). That’s pretty impressive considering his fastball has increased in velocity the past two years. It now sits between 90-95 with good command. His offs-peed stuff is solid but nothing to right home about. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus  thinks that Peacocks ceiling is probably a #3 starter maybe a #2 in Oakland’s ballpark, but that his floor is higher than most pitching prospects. He is viewed as a fairly safe bet.
A.J. Cole is the opposite. He’s a tall, lanky, projectable pitcher with lots of upside. He’s got plus stuff with a mid to upper nineties fastball that he commands well, though his off-speed stuff is behind has fastball command-wise. His ERA was over 4.00 last year in A ball but also had a k/9 of almost 11. The fact that he’s missing so many bats while at such a young age (turns twenty next month) is a good sign. And I’m sure the A’s love his 6’4’’ frame. Cole gives the A’s another potential ace in the low minors.
Norris is a bit of a mystery. He’s been all over the place on prospect lists the past two years and can’t seem to consistently show his true strengths. He’s never going to be known as a defensive catcher but he has loads of plate discipline and good power potential, especially for a catcher. The problem is his bating average has dropped every year, falling all the way to .210 last year. Now he did have a .367 OBP and a .446 SLG % so you can probably look past the batting average for a catcher who gets on base and hits homers. But if he can just hit .250 with solid defense and keep those other stats where they are, he could end up being the most valuable part of this trade. He’s likely to repeat AA this year for the A’s so he’ll definitely be a guy to keep an eye on. If he can get the batting average up, his value will skyrocket.
Milone seems like just a solid lefty with a chance to stick in the back end of a rotation. Again, pitching in Oakland will help him, but don’t expect any Cy Youngs from this guy.
As I said, I really like this trade for the A’s. I think they added lots of upside to their minor league system, which lacked exactly that. Sure, there is risk involved, but there is always a risk. A lot of A’s fans will be discouraged by the A’s trading another of their young and upcoming stars, but you have to remember that we didn’t win with these guys last year and everyone else in the division got better. At least we are getting some value for these guys now.
I would expect a Bailey trade next, though I’m not sure how fast that will happen. As I said last time, it could be as late as the July 31st trade deadline. The Red Sox , Rangers , Blue Jays  and most recently the Rays  have expressed interest in Bailey so I’ll keep everybody posted.
The most interesting thing about this trade is how it affects Kurt Suzuki’s tenure with the team. All along Billy Beane has stated that everyone on his roster but Jemile Weeks is available. And now that the A’s have added an intriguing catching prospect in this deal, along with several other catching prospects already in the A’s system, Kurt Suzuki could become very available very quickly. I’m not saying I’d expect a trade, but rumors could surface soon, especially as the inevitable injuries start to happen around the league.
Up Next: I’ve been waiting to see what the A’s got back in potential trades, but now that the big ones are likely over with (with the possible exception of a Bailey trade) I’m going to star working on a top ten prospects list. Shouldn’t take me too long, as I’ve been doing a lot of research on prospects these last couple weeks so look for it soon after Christmas.
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