Nats Trade Four Farmhands For Gio Gonzalez

Multiple online sources are reporting that the Nationals have traded four prospects for LHP Gio Gonzalez, a package that’s said to include RHPs Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, LHP Tommy Milone and C Derek Norris.

While you might think that my initial reaction might be that we gave away the farm (hence the pic), I am personally pleased for Milone and Norris, both of whom will now be in a better position to make the majors. The American League has long rewarded lefties with good control and sharp breaking stuff (see Wells, David; Pettitte, Andrew). Norris now can be used as a DH if need be (Scott Hatteberg comparisons in 3… 2… 1…).

Both Milone and Norris were blocked to some extent by Wilson Ramos and/or Jesus Flores and Ross Detwiler and/or John Lannan. Note those “and/or’s” because Rizzo may not be done dealing, especially since Detwiler is out of options. As we saw earlier this month with the Perry-for-Balester trade, Rizzo is quite willing to make a trade to get that roster flexibility (insert Garrett Mock joke here) he covets.

So it’s Peacock and Cole for Gio, essentially, with Norris and Milone as insurance. If Gio does indeed improve his control while maintaining his GB rate and K rates, then this could be a trade that works out for both organizations.

I now return you to the howling on Twitter.

UPDATE — The trade also included 24-year-old RHP Robert Gilliam, who is not in the upper echelons of Oakland’s prospects. The best that I could find on him came from a fantasy baseball site,

Pitched well in an extreme hitting environment – High-A Stockton (California League). In 164⅓ innings, Gilliam had the following ratios: 8.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.3 Hr/9, 4.30 FIP, .307 BABIP, 1.30 WHIP. Those aren’t fantastic numbers, but they are noteworthy due to the environment. Could receive a late season call-up if he continues to pitch this well.

Considering that Cole was nearly a lock to move up to Potomac, it would appear that Rizzo has lined up his replacement.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

49 thoughts on “Nats Trade Four Farmhands For Gio Gonzalez”

  1. Time to start over at least right-handed starter wise … guess the top 20 prospect list must change? Or will it? πŸ˜‰

    1. My first reaction is to not add names for the sake of adding names. Didn’t do it with the Gorzelanny trade.

      I think the only circumstance is if Rizzo trades an MLBer for a prospect in another team’s Top 30.

      1. Let’s hope they get Bradley Meyers back. There may be a shot for him in the rotation after all. Esp. with Wang?

        1. Updated it. He *just* turned 24, so my guess is he’s Potomac-bound. Too early to call, though. Just using my ROT regarding Rizzo: one level less than you initially think.

          1. Courtesy of Amanda Comack:

            Gilliam has three things going for him: arm strength, control and a feel for three pitches. He finished third in the California League this season with both 156 strikeouts and 164 1/3 innings, and he’s more than just a throw-in for Washington. Gilliam sits in the 92-94 mph range and while his slider and changeup grade as below-average presently, both could become average offerings with further refinement. That could mean a future in the bullpen, but it also gives him an outside shot at a future as a mid-rotation starter.

  2. Seriously, everyone is going crazy about this trade, and how it was such a rip off.

    Anyone else REALLY glad to have a proven lefty with a career ERA under 3.5, under team control until 2015? And before you mention it, yes I know about the walks.

    1. He’s 26 and so may still have celing: if he is teach-able they can teach him to reduce the walks. But they’ve failed to do that with Lannan. He is a 200 ip pitcher 2 years running so in that Rizzo got what he wanted when he couldn’t get Buehrle. A guy with better stuff from the left-side.

      However, he did pay far more for this guy than would have for Buehrle even at 4 years +. This is an enormous risk for the Nationals when Cole was made part of the bargain.

      Plus there is no depth behind the 5-6 starters in the majors in AAA now except for Yunesky Maya and perhaps Stammen.

      I think they need Oswalt.

    2. Pricey yes; A ripoff, maybe not. It does muck up the SP depth overall, and seems to effect SYR significantly. I guess we’ll have to see what the rest of the off-season yields.

  3. NFA_Brian: Like the GG deal, Strasburg, Gonzalez, & Zimmermann is very good young 1-2-3 for the next four years.

    Guess that settles that.

  4. Just noticed that I could only come up with 2 names that could start in Syracuse now, and they are Erik Arnesen and Yunesky Maya. #needsmoredepth

    1. Harper, Rendon, Hood, Purke, Solis (unless injured), Lombardozzi, Meyer … and there might be others who rise up … so they may still at least be on the cusp?

      1. Our status as an elite system now rides on this year’s crop, Goodwin, Purke and Meyer. Lombardozzi and Hood don’t register but so much.

        Here’s hoping that Solis is fine and can avoid the dreaded knife.

  5. I’m reserving my comments on this. We won’t know how it’s all played out for probably two years, at least.

  6. I do love that this happened the same day as Boswell’s impatient column today. I also hope that he keeps writing that way, since I grew up with the NY overreactions, and such conversations “angry up the blood.”

    Anyway, as obsessed as I am with this blog and NFA before it, I am excited to witness the first time that the Nats have depth enough to pull this off. When Rizzo nearly pulled off the Greinke trade last year, the cost seemed prohibitive, and would have cut too close to the bone. Even if Syracuse looks light in the staff this year, the Nats don’t.

    We are Prince Fielder away from the playoffs, at most.

    1. Well, I sure hope it’s coincidental because as the old saw goes, if Mike Rizzo starts paying attention too much to the whining in the stands, he’ll be sitting next to them before long.

      You can count me among the folks that feel a little disheartened that the farm has been weakened, but at the same time the parent club has been strengthened. Sometimes we need a little reminding that that’s *always* the endgame.

      1. One determining factor had to be the fact the Rizzo, Clark, Harris, Minnitti et al appear to be at their best when drafting pitchers. And 2012 brings another draft. I bet they now wish they had went way over slot to haul in Laxer and Hawtin. That would might have made it far less of a risk plus given the new cap on draft bonuses. Which may effect their draft strategies. IMO as long as the payroll stays depressed they should continue to go over-slot and cap and pay the luxury tax if need be.

  7. Let’s be totally honest here, this was much cheaper, moneywise, than actually going to get a veteren pitcher to help out with with the young studs. The Nats sure saved a lot of money doing it this way. Boswell was right about the cheapness factor.

    Rizzo and the rest of the F.O. better pray every night before they go to bed that they get Meyers back.

    1. So, trading away young, cost-controlled minor-league talent for a more expensive major league player is “cheap”? And you really think the Nats are much more likely to make a playoff run over the next 4 years with a declining Mark Buehrle or a banged up Roy Oswalt (on a one-year contract), than they would be with a 26-year old starter with two years of 200+ IP and ERA+ of over 125?

      1. Part of your answer contradicts the other part.
        The Nats have a LOT of room payroll-wise, and ,yes, Gonzales is a whole lot cheaper than Oswalt.

        1. I wasn’t arguing that Oswalt was cheaper than Gonzalez. You’re conflating the two points I’m made:

          1) Gonzalez was traded for 4 minor leaguers/MLB-minimum guys. He’ll be arbitration-eligible soon, and will likely earn more money than those 4 players combined over the next 4 years. I think this counters your contention that this was primarily a cost-savings move.

          2) Gonzalez is better addition to the Nats staff than the Nats’ two recent FA targets, Buehrle and Oswalt. I think that adding another young stud is better than acquiring an older, declining veteran pitcher “to help out with the young studs.”

          Which of these points do you take issue with?

  8. I love the fact that we got Gio and the Yankees didn’t. I think this guy still has growth and we have him under contract for many years. I’m sorry to see Peacock go because he was a home grown guy who came on with alot of talent out of nowhere. Anyway, I wish Peacock, Milone, Norris, and Cole the best of luck; I even think they might have better opportunities to get to the big’s with their new organization.
    My biggest concern is Syracuse. Who is going to start there? I know Maya will be back but lets face it, he sucks. Detwiler is out of options and Meyers is now a Yankee. Is Arnesen even coming back; he can’t be happy about the way the organization handled him last year. Are Tatusko and Roark even options; not in my opinion. Solis…hurt again. OK, who starts in Syracuse?

    1. Still a lot of time to get credible talent for Syracuse it’s just that talent is more likely to be AAAA than genuine prospects now. Tatusko can’t be an option. They converted him to a reliever last year and he’s been relieving in winter ball to my knowledge.

  9. Prospects can seduce you – remember when the Mets’ rotation was going to be great for years thanks to Pulsipher, Wilson and Isringhausen? Cole is an exciting prospect who hasn’t played above low A ball. I get this deal from both teams’ perspective. Face it – with four years of control (and at least the first two were going to be even within the A’s budget), the A’s were going to have to be blown away with an offer to move Gonzalez. This trade may or may not work out for either/both sides, but the more I think about it the less upset I am.

  10. I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to read some of the comments above here. Knowing that NFA_Brian likes the deal is very reassuring to me. He follows prospects as closely as anyone and his thumbs up to this deal tempers my own initial reaction that three of our top pitchers is one too many.

    AJ Cole is the one that hurts me the most. I feel Peacock is not going to be better than Gonzalez. I feel Norris is blocked and I feel that Milone is more in the back end of the rotation. This puts pressure on Rizzo’s most recent draft to pan out if we want to have prospects the next time he gets the itch to make a move.

    Perhaps the feeling is that the free agent market just isn’t strong enough for us this year. I so wish we’d been able to sign Buerhle and avoid this kind of move. I’d rather we went after Oswalt for a year and trust our prospects more.

    Our rotation is certainly good enough to contend in our division. Is the offense? There’s got to be a move for either Fielder or Cespedes to follow this up or I’m not feeling this.

    If we don’t advance beyond the wild card play-in before AJ Cole hits the big leagues I’ll consider us having lost this trade.

  11. Gonzalez’s era away from home–4.24. Not a big fan of the trade. I believe the Nats gave up too much, but i’m still excited about the new top of our rotation at the major league level. Call me ambivalent.

    1. Ambivalent — Generally speaking, the A.L. has more hitter’s parks than pitcher’s parks and the reverse is true for the N.L. Also, you can subtract another 0.25 to 0.40 ERA by virtue of pitching to the pitcher instead the DH.

      1. Sue, you’re more qualified to address this than me, but isn’t there a huge hole in the Nats rotation in regards to mentoring. That was the idea behind a Buerhle or Oswaly; they’re both declining but have been through the wars before and can help the pups.

        1. Mentoring makes for a nice storyline, but I’ve seen no objective evidence to suggest a tangible effect. I know that sounds stat-nerd, but what does that say about a team’s pitching coach if that were truly necessary?

  12. It would be nice to have a more experienced arm to mentor the young guys, but don’t forget that mentoring young pitchers is one of Davey Johnson’s strengths.


  13. I posted my thoughts here, but on the whole I like the deal. You can nit pick Gonzalez’s numbers here and there, but the fact remains that he’s a strike out guy who was unlucky not to win 20 games last year. Successful pre-arb pitchers are the absolute rarest commodity in the game, and the Nats paid for it in kind.

    Norris was destined for trade bait, Milone looks like a 4-A pitcher. I’m not convinced Peacock can ever get a quality 3rd pitch and is destined for middle relief. Cole is the wild card; if he turns into Verlander in 4 years we’ll look bad. But if Cole tops out as something less than what Gonzalez is, we’ll look like geniuses.

    We thin the farm system absolutely. We kill our starting pitcher depth (pray for no injuries, else we’ll be giving starts to guys like Maya and Stammen again). But we also have a pretty durn good 1-2-3 now, to go with a 4-5 that aren’t half bad themselves. If Lannan is your #4 pitcher with his sub 4.00 era, you’re doing well.

    1. And if Meyer and his 100 mph fast ball become another Strasburg? It still all evens out. Plus the Nat’s draft mavens have another draft in 2012. Have to see how they handle the new draft bonus cap. If I were them I would be strategizing on how to go over that cap and pay the minimum freight in fines. Still makes sense to build from within while signing just a few key free agents.

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