BREAKING MLB UPDATE – The New York Yankees have reportedly opened up trade talks with the Oakland A’s regarding P Gio Gonzalez.
As of writing this (about 5 PM on Sunday), I haven’t seen any other confirmation of this rumor, but that’s beside the point. We’ve seen the Yankees linked to Gonzalez before and he is worth making a run at. Before we explore his value, let’s look at his profile.
Gonzalez was a first round pick in 2004, selected 38th overall by the White Sox out of a Florida high school. In December of 2005, he was traded to the Phillies to complete the trade that brought Jim Thome to the White Sox. 363 days later, he was traded (with Gavin Floyd) back to the White Sox for Freddy Garcia. In January of 2008, he was traded to the A’s with Fautino De Los Santos and Ryan Sweeney for Nick Swisher. So, we all owe Gio a bit of thanks; he helped bring Nick Swisher to the Yankees.
In 2008 Gonzalez reached the Majors and threw 34 innings. In 2009, he lasted for 98.2 innings in the Majors. 2010 and 2011 saw Gonzalez reach 200.2 and 202.0 innings respectively and he was worth 3.2 and 3.5 fWAR in those seasons. While his control has been iffy, 4.44 career BB/9, he’s improved his BB/9 each year in the Majors and was at 4.05 in 2011. Gio’s also shown the ability to strike guys out (8.59 K/9) and has been good at generating grounders (47.5%). His career ERA/FIP/xFIP split is 3.93/4.06/3.98, but those are skewed by the numbers in his cups of coffee in 2008 and 2009. His 2010 numbers (3.23/3.78/4.04) and 2011 numbers (3.12/3.64/3.73) are more encouraging. Gonzalez will be 26 when the season starts (b. 1985) and will turn 27 on September 19th. On the surface, this looks like a guy the Yankees should definitely target. He’s young, gets grounders, strikes batters out, and doesn’t completely walk the ballpark. Gonzalez also has a ton of team control left; 2012 will be his first arbitration year. MLBTR projects Gonzalez to make $4.2M.
It was tricky, and may not be 100% accurate, but I plugged Gonzalez into the trade value calculator to get an approximate number on his value. Based very arbitrarily on the fact that he added .3 WAR form 2010 to 2011, I assumed a .3 increase in WAR up through his FA year. Gonzalez is a super two and will get four arbitration years rather than three. So, for 2012-2015, I “projected” 3.8; 4.1; 4.4; and 4.7 WAR. We’ll also assume raises of $3M a year, so we get the aforementioned $4.2M for 2012, then $7.2M; $10.2M, and $13.2M for 2013-2015. If we plug those in and then assume Gonzalez will be a Type-A free agent when he’s done with team control, we end up with a trade value of $75.6M. That is a lot of value. For a frame of reference as to what that would cost, check here.
Gonzalez has just about everything you’d want in a young pitcher and because of that, he’s going to cost a lot in a trade. In theory, I’d definitely like to trade for Gonzalez. But in practice, I’m not sure it happens. The Yankees can get something similar in terms of production on the free agent market without having to give up prospects, and I’d rather do that.
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