clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Breaking Down The Adrian Gonzalez Trade

New, comments

I'm actually pretty satisfied with this trade as a Yankee fan.  How is that possible, you ask?  Let me break it down by illustrating the winners and losers:

Winners: The Padres' farm system

Slight Winners: The 2011 Red Sox

Losers: The 2013-2016 Red Sox

First base and third base were clear strengths for Boston in 2010.  Despite missing 60 games due to injury, Kevin Youkilis managed to post 4.3 WAR, while Adrian Beltre contributed his second consecutive outstanding contract year, good for 6.1 WAR.  Beltre, a Scott Boras client, was probably never that likely to re-sign, but a healthy Youkilis paired with a non-Boras third baseman would have still been a reasonably safe bet for 8-9 WAR in 2011. 

Instead, Adrian Gonzalez will now play first while Youkilis will move to third.  Gonzalez is an outsanding player, perhaps one of the five or ten best in all of baseball, but it's not like he's replacing Casey Kotchman.  As for Youkilis, if you assume he can smoothly transition to being a full time third baseman, he should match Beltre's production from last season, although he's not likely to exceed it.  In total, Boston can reasonably expect 10-12 WAR from this duo in 2011, an upgrade of one to three wins. 

However, they've committed a cardinal sin to add those extra wins, trading away young talent to acquire a player and then signing him to what will probably be one of the ten richest contracts in the history of the sport.  By going all-in like this to address an area that was not a serious need, they could wind up hindering their ability to address the outfield and bullpen, areas of major need that kept them home this October, as well as adding to the long-term contract logjam that awaits them in a few years. 

Assuming they sign Gonzalez for $20-$22 million a season, their 2013 payroll committment will swell to around  $100 million for 8 players, with nearly $90 million committed to 6 in 2014.  They still need to fix their outfield for 2011, but doing this via trade now seems unlikely, given their thinned farm system, and adding another high salary player like Carl Crawford will only exacerbate the dilemma they're already facing when Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jon Lester begin to hit free agency after 2013.

The trade was simply too much.  Gonzalez is an excellent player, but the Red Sox didn't miss the playoffs in 2010 because of their corner infielders nor were they likely to do so in 2011.  Even large market teams have to use their resources wisely at some point, and Boston could have used theirs to more adequately fill areas of greater need. 

But as a Yankees fan, I'm not complaining.