On Saturday, MLB.com is confirming that the Red Sox and Padres have, in principle, agreed to a trade that would send Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, though an official contract is still yet to be signed. The teams themselves have yet to confirm the trade to the media.
Gonzalez, who posted a .904 OPS last season, is arguably one of the top five hitters in baseball, and the prospect of him in the middle of the already-powerful Red Sox lineup is sort of frightening. He'll make up the heart of the order, along with Kevin Youkilis (.975 OPS in 2010) and David Ortiz (.899). This does mean, however, that the Sox are almost certainly not going to retain third baseman Adrian Beltre, as Ortiz is firmly entrenched in the DH spot and Youkilis will need to move to the five-hole in order to make room for Gonzalez.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein seemed intent on landing Gonzalez without having to wave goodbye to any major league talent, and he succeeded, but the Padres are certainly getting a lot more than bread crumbs. Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes, all minor leaguers, have been highly-regarded by scouts. Padres general manager Jed Hoyer has offered some pragmatic remarks regarding the decision to trade away Gonzalez:
“My view is that we have a great player,” Hoyer said Friday. “We’re also aware that player is not going to be here in 2012. While we would never minimize the value of the 2011 season, we have to think about the long-term health of the franchise.”
While it's no fun to trade away your franchise's best player months after coming within a game of a playoff spot, he's right. The Padres were and are apparently unable to support Gonzalez by placing another power hitter in the lineup, and re-signing him to a massive deal without building a quality bat or two around him doesn't make much sense.