According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Nationals have agreed to terms with the Oakland Athletics to acquire pitcher Gio Gonzalez, and parting with prospects A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone and Derek Norris. Oakland once again goes for a slough of young arms in exchange for a player whose salary will be increasing under arbitration above their affordable level.
The deal, if accurately reported, will really come down to Milone and Peacock for Gonzalez, as Norris was of limited utility be . hind young catcher Wilson Ramos, and Cole is far enough from the majors that he was likely the sort of longterm player A’s GM Billy Beane is willing to take a risk for. Milone’s debut in Washington this year was quite memorable, as he smashed a 3-run homer off the first pitch he saw in the bigs, for my second favorite Nats moment in 2011. Peacock had a successful year in 2011, going 5-1 in AAA Syracuse, with a 3.19 ERA before making the big club and going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 3 starts. Milone put up 5 starts with the Nationals this year, striking out 14 in 26 innings and walking just 4, after going 12-6 with Syracuse with a 3.22 ERA, striking out 155 batters, and walking just 16.
Gio Gonzalez, 25, comes to DC after a 16-12 2011 record, with nearly 200 strikeouts and 91 walks. Gonzalez is arbitration-eligible this year, and would likely see his salary increase to over $4M. Gonzalez would likely be the #2 or #3 starter, completing a 1-2-3 rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. That’s the sort of rotation that the Nationals are going to need to compete in the NL East over the next few seasons, with a rebuilding team in Miami, and the consistently strong Phillies.
This trade, if completed (and I suspect it will be), would up the ante for the Nationals in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, as it seems they are betting very strongly on making a playoff push in 2012-2014, and will need Fielder’s power in the middle of the lineup to bolster the results from Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.