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Analyzing the Gio Gonzalez Trade

Isn't it appropriate that in the middle of our 29 Trades for 29 Teams series, a blockbuster trade occurred between the Oakland Athletics and the Washington Nationals?

In exchange for four arbitration years of Gio Gonzalez (he's a Super 2), the Nationals sent A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Derek Norris, and Tom Milone to the Bay Area. After reading about the trade, I wanted to find out what the equivalent Yankees trade package would look like.

I immediately thought of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, and Adam Warren as a comparable trade offer. As WhatwouldJeterdo pointed out to me, Moshe Mandel and Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues also had a similar conversation involving the same prospects I had thought of. Mandel offered the same trade as I did, while Axisa offered one of Banuelos/Betances, Phelps, Warren, and Romine.

On paper, the trade offers match up very well. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances were rated as the 13th and 26th best prospects in baseball by Baseball America in their Midseason Top 50 Prospects List. For the Nationals, only Brad Peacock was ranked on this list at number 42, however, that should be taken with a grain of salt. A.J. Cole is a very high upside pitcher who turned in a fantastic first professional season with an amazing 10.92 K/9 to only 2.43 BB/9. Cole is farther away from the majors than the others, however, making him more of a risk.

As Axisa did, you could make the argument that the Yankees could be giving up better pitching prospects than the Nationals are. In that case, he substituted Banuelos for David Phelps. Phelps may provide a higher floor than Cole at this time due to age and where they pitched last season, but by offering both Warren and Phelps, the Yankees would be limiting the upside of the players leaving for the A's.

The catchers offered is where I had my greatest issue. In Derek Norris, the A's received a catcher with fantastic power - .237 ISO at Double-A - and patience - BB rates between 16.4% and 22.3% at each of his stops. However, Norris' contact abilities have been questioned, as his K% has increased from 21.5% at A-ball to 27.7% at Double-A last season. I wasn't sure if I would offer Austin Romine or Gary Sanchez here, but ultimately, I went with Romine because despite that he has less upside than Norris, he may have a higher floor.

Finally, the Nationals sent over left-hander Tom Milone, who will be 25 by the time Spring Training begins. Milone doesn't 'wow' scouts with his below average fastball, but he has managed to be effective with impeccable control. As a comparison, I went with Adam Warren because both players project as back-end starters. You could also make the case for David Phelps here instead, but there isn't so much of a difference between the two that the inclusion of one instead of the other would be a deal breaker.

So there you have it. Banuelos and Betances may be a bit more highly regarded than Peacock and Cole (we'll see when Baseball America releases their Top 100 list for 2012), but you could also make the case that Norris and Milone are better than Romine and Warren. Overall, it is very close, and I have to wonder which package the A's would have decided on if the Yankees had made an offer of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, and Adam Warren for Gio Gonzalez.

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I originally wanted to use the Sky Kalkman Trade Value Calculator that I am so fond of, but trying to project Gio Gonzalez over the next four years could be difficult. He's a Super 2, meaning he has four years of arbitration eligibility ahead of him, and depending on how he adjusts to the National League, his salary ranges could be anywhere. It is probably impossible to accurately guess how much Gonzalez will make in three years, so I just went with comparing the players in the trade rather than seeing if the Nationals overpaid or Yankees would have overpaid in a potential deal.