Dan O’Dowd, GM of the Colorado Rockies, responded to the recent rumors that the team was shopping outfielder Carlos Gonzalez:
“The Carlos Gonzalez thing is a joke,” O’Dowd said. “We’re not trading Carlos Gonzalez.”
Gonzalez is a great player, but is he really worth holding onto?
First off, let’s look at what Gonzalez has done:
|162 Game Avg.||162||666||606||107||184||36||7||30||100||24||6||49||142||.303||.356||.533||126|
Those are solid stats on the surface, and they are the second best on the Rockies. 2010 saw Gonzalez take third in the NL MVP voting (behind Joey Votto and Albert Pujols) and earn his first silver slugger and gold glove. He also led the league in hitting, total bases, and total hits. This year, he’s leading the league in runs scored and total bases and is batting close to his 2010 slash line. (For the record, I complained about his splits that year as well)
What happens if you compare the home and away stats?
As you can see, there is a huge gap between Gonzalez’ home and away stats. Gonzalez murders the ball at home, and becomes closer to an average player on the road. These numbers also include his sub-par rookie season in Oakland in 2008; he had similar lines for home and away that year. It’s also worth noting that the ball park in Oakland is a pitcher’s park.
Money-wise, it’s not impossible. Gonzalez signed an 7-year, $80MM extension with the Rockies prior to the 2011 season; he’s affordable now, but the price continues to rise:
It’s not a killer deal on its own, but add in the $20MM per season that Troy Tulowitzki is going to make at the end of that contract, and it becomes a little bit of a constraint on the Rockies budget. The Rockies started the season with a payroll a little bit over $81MM; that’s down over the previous 2 seasons. I don’t see the Rockies expanding payroll that much by the end of the contract. We could probably assume it’s up to $90 MM by 2017. That would be almost half of the payroll for 2 players. They would need the relief to be able to compete.
What Type of Package Could They Get?
The Rockies stand to gain a lot by dealing Gonzalez. He’s young (26 this season) and fairly in-expensive at the beginning of the deal. By the time he’s making $20MM, he’s only 31; he’ll be playing for a new contract at that point. That’d be close to the age of Mark Teixeira when the Rangers dealt him (he was actually 27 when dealt). Granted, Teixeira had a year and a half left on his contract at the time and was more of a rental. The Braves traded Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Beau Jones for Teixeira and lefty Ron Mahay. I think the Rockies could get a similar package.
(It’s also worth looking at what the Braves got a year later when they traded Teixeira. When it was clear the Braves were out of it, they moved him to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek. The Angels were less willing to pay a large amount to get a guy that was months from free agency. The Rockies would be much better off trading him sooner rather than later).
Many might say that deal wouldn’t be present in this market. Think about what Oakland and San Diego did this off-season. Oakland landed 10 good prospects for Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. The Padres landed 3 good prospects and a major league pitcher for Mat Latos.
The Rockies should start by checking with Boston. They’ve been unable to keep a full outfield healthy, don’t hesitate to take on payroll, and haven’t shied away from trading prospects. I’d ask about Matt Barnes as the center piece and hope for a combo of 3 of Garin Cecchini, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Jacobs, Jackie Bradley, and Henry Owens. I’d even hope for a lesser player like Jose Iglesias or Brandon Workman to finish out the deal. The only concern would be the big contract that Carl Crawford already has in the outfield.
I’d also check with the Yankees; they have Nick Swisher who’s a free agent after the season and Brett Gardner who’s been hurt most of the season. The Yankees have never worried about adding payroll in the past (but do worry about it now) and have traded a lot of prospects over the year. Any deal would have to begin with Manny Banuelos; if they could get him with either Mason Williams or Tyler Austin, with a couple of Adam Warren, Slade Heathcott, Ravel Santana, and J.R. Murphy, you’d have a solid package.
The third team I would check with would be the Rangers; Gonzalez would be nice insurance for Josh Hamilton leaving. They’d also worry less about a drop off in production, since the Ballpark at Arlington is known to help hitters. Any package would have to start with Martin Perez, and would need to include 2 of Mike Olt, Leonys Martin, and Rougned Odor. I’d also like to less prospects from Jorge Alfaro, Michael Kirkman, Justin Grimm, and Ronald Guzman.
I think other teams could be interested, but those are the 3 that come to mind when talking about adding a player, taking payroll, and having strong farm systems.