Miami and Oakland Talk Gio Gonzalez
Today in the New York Post, Joel Sherman reported that,
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.