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Miami and Oakland Talk Gio Gonzalez

November 18, 2011

Today in the New York Post, Joel Sherman reported that,

“When I asked Oakland GM Billy Beane about the availability of Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, he said, “In our situation, we are open to anything.”

However, teams that have inquired (the Yankees particularly like Gonzalez) have been told Oakland wants an ace return for either.”

This isn’t news, we have heard about the Yankees’ interest in Gio Gonzalez (understandable especially given he is a southpaw which can help him neutralize left-handed hitters in left-handed friendly Yankee Stadium) in the past. The fact that Beane would command a king’s ransom back is not surprising either since these pitchers aren’t yet in their prime and are relatively affordable, etc. But in an overlooked piece by MLB.com’s Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro we may have an idea where the discussions on the A’s side at least are beginning when it comes to Gio (who I have to think has the better value of the two). He writes,

“Rumblings from those connected to the Marlins is Miami had at least one inquiry conversation with the A’s regarding Gonzalez. It took place before this week’s General Managers Meetings in Milwaukee.

The belief is the Marlins said no when the A’s were asking for Logan Morrison, Ricky Nolasco and two top prospects for Gonzalez. The Minor Leaguers the A’s were said to be coveting were outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, two promising talents who were part of low Class A Greensboro’s championship team.”

This deal is undoubtedly tilted towards Oakland and it isn’t surprising that Miami would balk at it. Logan Morrison, who just recently turned 24, participated in 123 games for the Marlins in his second season in the bigs. He posted 1.0 WAR (hurt by poor fielding in left field) with a .247/.330/.468 slash line, and a .344 wOBA while cranking 23 home runs. His .221 ISO bettered everyone except Josh Willingham on the 2011 A’s club. Morrison won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2013 season.

Ricky Nolasco is a fascinating pitcher to those who enjoy sabermetrics because he has consistently significantly underperformed his FIP and in 2011 that was no different, posting a solid 3.54 FIP with a less sterling 4.67 ERA. On his career his FIP stands at 3.83 while his ERA is a messier 4.50. Two key culprits in Nolasco’s FIP/ERA problems in 2011 at least, seem to be his poor .331 BABIP and his equally disappointing 66.2% LOB% – two numbers that in his career have consistently been around those levels. With four full years in the Majors behind him, one has to wonder if these are no longer luck but if there is something he does that causes them, but regardless Nolasco is a decent middle of the rotation type starter though he is owed $20.5M over the next two seasons which would easily make him the A’s most expensive player (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s intention with Nolasco were to flip him).

The two prospects included are listed as the Marlins’ number one and two prospects by Baseball America. Yelich – the number one prospect in the Fish’s system – is a left-handed left and center fielder who will turn 20 next month, had a stellar year in Single-A Greensboro posting a .312/.388/.484 slash line in 521 plate appearances with 15 home runs and a strong .371 wOBA. Ozuna meanwhile has a cannon for an arm and is the biggest power threat in Miami’s system. A teammate of Yelich, Ozuna who is a year older than Yelich, posted a .266/.330/.482 slash line powering 23 home runs with a .365 wOBA for the Grasshoppers as their right fielder.

Though Gio is a great story for a Miami Marlins club looking to rebrand themselves as he is as well all know a native of the Miami suburb of Hialeah, this asking price for Gio is quite steep. As with any negotiation however, where you begin and where you end up are two very different things. The more and more there are rumblings, the more and more I suspect that Gio is gone. He is the most valuable trade piece that Oakland has and if Beane plays it well, he can take the Yankees and Marlins’ interest and hopefully translate it into a strong return. Have left hand, can pitch is usually sufficient for some sort of return, have left hand, can pitch well usually brings back a decent return. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses, but my guess is that Nolasco’s inclusion is a bit of a salary offset for the Marlins’ presumed new pieces, Morrison’s inclusion has to do with the Marlins not liking his free-spirited ways on Twitter, and that they aren’t ready to give up their two best prospects. A deal with Morrison and Nolasco and lesser prospects might get it done, but my expectation is that Nolasco would be a part of any package regardless should the Marlins trade for a young pitcher like Gio.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2011 1:06 pm

    I would take Morrison + Yelich + Ozuna and call it a day. Done.

    • November 18, 2011 1:24 pm

      I would too, but I think Nolasco needs to be a part for the Marlins financially. So I’d do Nolasco, Yelich and Ozuna. Or Nolasco, Yelich and a lower graded prospect. I think if you remove Nolasco though, the quality of the prospects needs to go down due to the financial offset.

  2. November 18, 2011 2:47 pm

    Gio is worth a lot – but wow our system is so diminished with bad draft picks and promotions of Stanton/Morrison. They can not give up those guys. Now supposedly LoMo is off limits, and i imagine Yelich is as well since we do not have long term OF solutions. Unless all this spending is for real, and they can get guys in FA, i do not see a deal getting done that includes both LoMo and Yelich.

    • November 18, 2011 2:50 pm

      Interesting to hear a Fish fan’s take, thank you for reading and checking in. I would’ve thought LoMo is on the trading block given what appeared to be a somewhat soured relationship. I think the price that Beane is asking is steep, but he should be asking for a steep price. I suppose it’d depend if the Marlins were in win now mode (which I don’t think they should be). I’d sign off on that deal in a heartbeat as I think any A’s fan would, but that is because it really would be highway robbery.

  3. dncmfl permalink
    November 21, 2011 7:18 am

    Why would the A’s take back Nolasco, other than to flip him? I thought the idea of trading Gio was to deal him before he got too expensive, yet Nolasco has what’s looking like too big of a contract.

    • November 21, 2011 12:26 pm

      I think the reason to deal Gio now isn’t that he gets too expensive, but it is more than his value is at its apex with him under team control through 2014 being a proven starter. If this deal were to be done as is (something I think is highly unlikely because it so dramatically benefits Oakland), you take Nolasco to get the other three. Whether you keep him or not is in some ways irrelevant. I just think that without the slight payroll offset from losing Nolasco, Miami wouldn’t entertain adding another starter who’d cost a few million.

  4. Woody permalink
    November 21, 2011 8:37 pm

    Trading Gio would make me sick. I know the A’s need to replenish their farm system, but do it with other players that aren’t as good. Gio is arguably the best player we have and will only get better. He’s the real deal, affordable, young, and seems to be a good character guy. I say trade ANYONE but Gio.

    • November 21, 2011 8:49 pm

      I love Gio. He is one of my favorite A’s – I’d have to place Brandon McCarthy ahead of him. I also love Andrew Bailey, but I think if the team is committed to a full rebuild, it starts with Bailey and Gonzalez, because of the very reasons you listed it makes them most valuable. Trading spare parts yields spare parts. If Oakland wants to rebuild they need to do it the right way. That all said, if you are indeed going to keep Gio, sign him to an extension and say “this guy is our ace when we open the new stadium”. If they aren’t ready to make that commitment he ought to be dealt.

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