Nationals Lead Hyperactive Gio Gonzalez Trade Market

The Washington Nationals could probably use some Chien-Ming Wang and/or Ross Detwiler insurance, as the team has an underrated offense and the quietest almost-over-.500 season you'll ever see from a (sort of) long-beleaguered franchise. They'll have Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in their rotation; a third top-of-the-rotation starter might even make the Phillies nervous.

So it's no surprise that they're linked to Gio Gonzalez, the young A's lefty who is attracting all sorts of trade-rumor excitement. From Jon Heyman:

word is, trade talk "progressing'' with gio. lhp, 26, popular beyond belief. nats r definitely still in, not sure who else

Popular beyond belief. The kind of pitcher who wins homecoming king, but still treats the guys in the math club with more respect than the rest of the football team. Head of the class, mom says he's a catch, quarterback, never picked last. That's Gio Gonzalez.

It's no surprise, either, what with his team-friendly contract -- he's arbitration-eligible for the first time, and he isn't going to be a free agent until after the 2015 season -- and his superlative, if a little wild, production. And the A's are looking for prospects to develop into All-Stars that they can turn into prospects to develop into All-Stars that they can trade for prospects to develop into All-Stars that they can trade for prospects. It's the circle of life. 

What would the Nats have to offer the A's? According to Buster Olney, high-OBP, low-average catcher Derek Norris is likely part of the discussion. And Jim Bowden, who has been freaky-right with his free-agent predictions thus far, suggests the following:

If Gio Gonzalez is traded to Washington...I expect the deal to look something like: A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Destin Hood and Derek Norris

That's a pretty substantial selection of prospects, which gives you an idea of why the A's might be interested. In addition to Norris, Cole is a 19-year-old right-hander with an impressive strikeout rate,  Peacock is another right-hander with great strikeout numbers, and Hood is a 21-year-old outfielder who has already shown solid on-base skills and emerging power.  

The Red Sox are also deep into the talks, according to Heyman, so it isn't a given that the Nationals will walk away with a shiny new pitcher in the burgeoning NL East arms race, a Cold War allusion in which the Mets are Greece. I'm not sure what the Red Sox would have to offer to keep pace with the Nationals, but it would likely be a whole bunch if Bowden's correct. 

It's looking like it's a when-not-if situation when it comes to a Gio Gonzalez trade. The A's were right to take some one-year gambles on players like Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui, hoping that an offense would coalesce around their pitching staff. It didn't work out, and now it's full prospects ahead. 

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